If the demolition is approved, Cooper Plaza plans to use the land as a parking lot until a better deal comes along.
"We're hoping someone else buys [the lot] and redevelops it," Sheehan said after the meeting.
After hour-long testimony by Sheehan, who read letters from Rutgers-Camden and Rowan outlining why they declined to purchase the property, Planning Board attorney Calvin Fisher Jr. recommended that the board wait to vote until it could review all documents and transcripts submitted in the case.
Fisher later said that Kristine Seitz, chairwoman of the Camden Historic Preservation Commission, had not had the opportunity to turn in a letter on the proposed the demolition before the meeting. A decision is expected at the board's April 11 meeting.
The preservation commission, an advisory group to the Planning Board, voted against demolition in October. Members said they believed that despite decay, the structure could be brought to code.
The hotel closed in 1985. The building rises about seven floors at Fifth Street and Cooper. Corrosion has struck much of the signage on the entrance awning and along a corner of the building.
While the Walt Whitman Hotel a few blocks down was the fancy hotel in the city during the Jazz Age and later, the Plaza served business travelers and had an unpretentious feel, with a lobby restaurant that attracted a lot of city workers. The Walt Whitman closed in 1960.
Cooper Plaza has been trying to sell the building since purchasing it in 1979, Sheehan said Thursday. Many interested parties have toured the building, but no offers have come through, he said.
The owner felt there was no hope of getting one of the universities to transform the Plaza into a new dormitory, Sheehan said. A full renovation into a 90-room building was estimated to cost $21.7 million.
Sheehan suggested that enough evidence had been presented to justify the decision "to say goodbye to the Hotel Plaza and demolish it."
Contact Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," at www.philly.com/camden_flow