Planned hotel/entertainment/residential complex at foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge didn’t fit area urban renewal plan

In April 2011, City Council approved zoning legislation that allows developer Robert Ambrosi of Arc Properties to build a hotel, residential, retail and entertainment development at 4th and Race Streets.

But it was later discovered that the development “did not conform to the urban renewal plan” for the area, Planning Commission Executive Director Gary Jastrzab said at this week’s city planning commission meeting. A “slight adjustment” was needed to allow residential, hotel and motel uses on the site, he said.  Administrative approval was granted.

Back then, Ambrosi talked to Toby Keith about operating an I Love This Bar and Grill honky tonk at the property.  Construction has not started, but there have been some signs of movement.  On Feb. 16, 401 Race Street Partners received a unity of use permit from the city.  And the Delaware River Port Authority moved its employee parking off of S. Meridian Way – the Belgian block street adjacent to the bridge which the developer was to take control of.

Old City Civic and other neighbor groups were not concerned about the hotel, but feared the entertainment portion would morph into a nuisance night club. Ambrosi said he would not allow that to happen, because it would hurt the hotel’s business, and the hotel is the cornerstone of the development.  Ambrosi could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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