Developer Brook Lenfest, the son of renowned developer H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, is moving forward with his plans for the development of two new luxury hotels in downtown Philadelphia. An attorney working on the project has provided new information about it to philly.com and the developers are expected to present their design proposals next week to the Center City Residents Association.
The four star W Hotel is slated to have 295 rooms. The Westin chain’s 3 star extended stay Element hotel will have 460 rooms. The two hotels are planned for 15th and Chestnut streets and will have 1, 700 square feet of retail space on the ground floor at the corner of the two.
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Local residents, however, are not happy seeing one person build two hotels right next to each other. In their newsletter they wrote, “On the Monopoly board, even on Park Place, only one hotel can be placed on a property. But the developers at 1441 Chestnut, currently a parking lot south of the condos at the Ritz, must have picked up one of those bonus cards, like the one that reads, ‘Your building loan matures – collect $150.'”
The last line was a reference to a $33 million tax break known as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that Lenfest was awarded for the project by the Philadelphia City Council last December.
But Lenfest maintains that even with the tax break the new development will bring in a huge tax windfall for the city saying at the time about the TIF, “The city is estimated during the term of the TIF to get an extra $175 million in taxes over what the current parking lot is paying. And the school district is expected to get an additional $12.3 million in incremental taxes over what’s currently being paid by the surface parking lot. So I think it’s a huge win for the city.”
Lenfest also maintained that he could not go forward with the project without the tax discounts.
Construction on the vacant lot there is expected to take three years and be completed sometime in 2017.
Brook Lenfest is the owner and publisher of Interstate General Media, which owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, and philly.com.