It was over a year ago that we last checked in on the parking lot on the northeast corner of 15th & Chestnut. At that time, we told you that previous plans for a Waldorf Astoria Hotel had faded into the ether and that instead a W Hotel was planned for this location. Likewise, we told you that the building, designed by Cope Linder, would rise 52 stories with 755 guest rooms, and would include underground parking. Knowing nothing as we do about the Center City hotel market, this seems like, on its face, a dramatic improvement over a surface parking lot in the heart of Center City.
Yesterday, according to the Inquirer, the planned hotel seemingly cleared another hurdle as City Council’s Finance Committee voted to support a request for a type of tax break the developers insist they require to make the project viable. As you can imagine, the project had numerous supporters and opponents, and the hearing dragged on for five hours. A group of other hotels in Center City oppose this project, claiming that there isn’t enough room in town for an additional hotel. Supporters from Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and PIDC were optimistic that a combination of increased tourism and greater convention demand moving forward would allow the new hotel to succeed without damaging the bottom lines of nearby competitors.
The proposal still needs to go before all of City Council for approval, but if we’re to read the tea leaves we would guess that this thing is going to happen. And assuming it does, it will mercifully bookend a story that began when One Meridian Plaza burned in 1991, costing three firefighters their lives.
The burned-out husk polluted our skyline for eight years before its demolition, and following the building’s demolition, this prime lot sat vacant for years. The Residences at the Ritz Carlton building went up a couple of years ago on half of this lot, and the construction of a new hotel on the rest of it would finally bring closure to the story after over twenty years.
The developers hope to begin construction at the beginning of the year, with a targeted completion date three years later. We’ll see what happens…