TIF tiff paves way for news Center City hotels

Posted: November 08, 2013

CENTER CITY could soon see the addition of two new high-end hotels.

A City Council committee yesterday paved the way for a controversial $33 million tax break for the hopeful developer, Brook Lenfest's Chestlen Development, who wants to put a W Hotel and an Element on the parking lot at 15th and Chestnut streets.

Supporters say the 700-room project would help the struggling Pennsylvania Convention Center, which reports having issues booking two shows at the same time due to a lack of hotel rooms in Center City. The developer will invest $205 million.

A group of local hotel owners are fighting the measure, known as Tax Increment Financing, or a TIF, arguing that demand for that many hotel rooms isn't there and that the new hotels will cannibalize their business. They pointed out that convention venues across the country have expanded significantly in recent years, although the number of conventions has increased only slightly.

Many of those hotels were built using TIFs as well.

The bill passed only after being amended to include a "labor-peace agreement," which guarantees employees the right unionize.

Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke support the TIF, along with Councilman Bill Green, who chairs the committee.

Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. spoke in opposition of the measure yesterday but didn't stick around for the final vote, which followed hours of testimony from both sides.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout

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