Old City lobbies city council to change controversial hotel bill

Old City Civic Association’s Developments Committee has sent a letter to every member of City Council, lobbying for amendments to a bill that would allow for a hotel with a large digital sign and a separately-operated 35,000-square foot restaurant/retail/entertainment area to be built at 401 Race St.

Bill 100552, introduced by First District Councilman Frank DiCicco, is set for a first reading at Thursday’s council meeting. It will have to be read again before a final vote is taken, said DiCicco aide Sean McMonagle.

While the community agrees with the developer, ARC Properties, that a hotel would be a good fit for the former clothing factory, residents are opposed to the proposed digital sign and the prospect of live entertainment.

Writing on behalf of the OCCA committee, vice-chairman Joe Schiavo wrote that: The signage controls in the Old City Overlay should not be removed from the current parcel, which would happen if the bill passes as written. The bill should also not include use approvals for the 35,000 retail/commercial space and the entertainment, restaurant and public assembly provisions should apply only to the hotel itself.

There is no public comment session at first reading, McMonagle said. But, thanks to a recent court ruling, there is public comment at the second reading, before the vote is taken.

McMonagle said the bill could go on the second reading calendar Dec. 9, or Dec. 16, which is council’s last session before break.

Contact the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com

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