But at the end of the morninglong hearing, Council deferred an initial vote until Wednesday. Council President John Street said Council members need more time to assess last-minute amendments, though he predicted passage for the bills - probably before mid-June.
Councilman James Kenney, who had tried to get initial Council approval yesterday, said the delay is an unfortunate signal.
``This should have sailed through today and we should have stood and given these businessmen a standing ovation for their decision to invest here,'' he said.
But Kenney conceded that the financial issues before Council are complex, involving a mix of loans, grants and something called tax-incentive financing, or TIFs.
William Hankowsky, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., said such financing provides crucial funding for a project. It earmarks tax revenue from the project as repayment for a development loan.
The procedure, created by state law several years ago, is actually more complicated than that, though the goal is fairly simple.
To attract capital to urban areas not likely to grow, city officials need incentives. Some Council members thought the three targets for growth - The PSFS building, the City Hall Annex and the Reading Terminal Headhouse - would likely grow anyway.
But Hankowsky said that without incentives, the deals wouldn't happen.
For example, in the case of the Headhouse project, Marriott will have a loan that will be paid back by new taxes generated on the 213-room hotel addition.
The city won't give up the minimal taxes it now collects on any of the properties.
``What we are giving up is a prospective tax stream that only occurs if the project occurs,'' Hankowsky said. ``We do believe that these projects can't occur unless we take these actions.''
The 1,240 new hotel rooms will help the Pennsylvania Convention Center attract conventions that the facility can't handle now, city officials hope. Hankowsky said he has a list of 40 conventions that said they'd book here if the city had more hotel rooms.
Councilman Michael Nutter raised the issue of a minority interest in the three projects, recalling past Council efforts to create such opportunities.
``The buildings got built, people are working but some people actually own a piece of it,'' Nutter said.
Hankowsky said Marriott Corp., which will own and operate the facilities at City Hall Annex and the Headhouse, already has a minority partner. But Loews Hotels, he said, has no such interest.
Nutter later said he wasn't thinking exclusively of minority ownership in terms of African-Americans or other minorities, but Philadelphians in general.
It was unclear whether Council or the Rendell administration would pursue the issue, though Street said he didn't think it likely.
Hankowsky said the city hopes to complete the sale of the Navy Yard by the end of the year. Without fiscal incentives, Hankowsky said the city won't be able to attact commercial tenants.
The project calls for demolishing 5 million square feet of buildings, renovating 4 million square feet and building 5.4 million square feet of new space.