Hotel financing plan advances in Philly, but not without opposition

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 Those for and against Tax Increment Financing for a new hotel turned out in force at Philadelphia City Council.  (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Those for and against Tax Increment Financing for a new hotel turned out in force at Philadelphia City Council. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Opinions differ sharply over a plan for 700-room hotel in Center City Philadelphia.

Some see it as crushing the competition, while others view it as vital to support expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

The plan to transform a parking lot near 15th and Chestnut into the city’s newest hotel advanced Thursday with a City Council committee’s approval of tax-increment financing for the project.

The facility is designed to supplement the city’s existing stock of rooms in support of the Pennsylvania  Convention Center.

The additional rooms are absolutely needed in the city, said Julie Coker of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We are asked consistently about the status of this project, and I can state unequivocally its development is crucial to Philadelphia’s status within the convention industry and an important element required to realize the full potential of the current size of the convention center,” Coker said.

The $280 million development would require about $75 million in public financing, including $33 million in tax-increment financing.

But members of the Benjamin Rowe of the group Concerned Hotel Owners of Philadelphia say a new hotel will hurt existing ones.

“This project will fail to generate the kind of incremental demand for hotel rooms that is projected,” said Bejamin Rowe of the hotel owners group. “Instead, the majority of business will be diverted from existing hotels, depressing their revenues. Lower revenues at existing hotels translate into lower tax receipts and fewer jobs at those hotels.”

The bill now goes to the full council for approval.

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