Philadelphia City Council members are set to consider a request this month to allow a taller building than currently is permitted at the planned Hudson Hotel project site near Rittenhouse Square, a sign that the boutique lodging proposal is moving forward.
Council's rules committee plans to vote next Wednesday on a proposal to change the zoning of the 15,180-square-foot site at 17th and Chancellor Streets to CMX-5, the city's highest-density designation. It's the first sign of progress on the project by local developer Chancellor Hotels since a neighborhood group cleared the plan in February.
"The project remains on track," Chancellor spokesman Vince Powers said in an email.
The hotel, a 310-room sibling to New York's trendy Hudson, would replace a multistory parking lot that has Little Pete's restaurant as a ground-floor tenant.
The parcel is currently zoned CMX-4, the second-highest-density designation. (CMX stands for "commercial mixed-use.") Chancellor Hotel's most recently released proposal calls for a 12-story building.
The Hudson is among several boutique hotel projects proposed or under construction in Philadelphia, which is seeing a boom in hotel development as its national profile as a travel destination grows.
California-based SBE Entertainment Group plans a 152-guest-room SLS hotel on South Broad Street in a project that will also include 90 condo units.
Crews have finished preparing the site for construction and plan to begin building in early 2016, said Marianne Harris, marketing director for Dranoff Properties, the developer.
The projects are moving forward amid reports that SBE chief executive officer Sam Nazarian was in talks to merge with the Hudson Hotel's New York-based corporate parent, Morgans Hotel Group. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Nazarian would become CEO of the combined company if the merger took place.
Shareholder Rambleside Holdings said it objected to such a merger and offered to buy the New York Hudson and a Florida hotel from Morgans for $507 million, while saying it might make a bid for the entire company.
Even if a merger occurred, the luxury-class, California-bred SLS and the more affordable, East Coast-inflected Hudson are different enough to share the market under the same corporate umbrella, said Andrew Benioff, a hotel specialist at Philadelphia's Llenrock Group real estate finance and advisory firm.
SBE spokeswoman Robin Paul would not comment on the impact in Philadelphia of a possible merger. Morgans spokesman Nathaniel Garnick did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.
"What an SLS is and what a Hudson is, they're very distinct," Benioff said.