Developer calls hotel group’s tax break dissent ‘hypocritical’

Brook Lenfest Credit: Provided
Brook Lenfest Credit: Provided

While most City Council finance committee hearings are yawn-worthy, Thursday’s hearing will more closely resemble the movie “High Noon.”

Brook Lenfest, the scion of the region’s most generous philanthropist H.F. Gerry Lenfest, is requesting authorization for $33 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for a combined W/Element hotel he is planning to build at 1441 Chestnut St. The site already receives the standard 10-year tax abatement.

The city’s existing luxury hotels, such as the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Sofitel, and Kimpton’s Palomar and Monaco, have written a letter opposing TIF approval for the hotel. The group, which calls itself the Concerned Hotel Owners of Philadelphia, fears the city’s downtown hotel market is not strong enough to absorb another 700 rooms on top of what is already planned without cannibalizing business from existing properties, according to their letter.

The city supports the TIF authorization, which serves as collateral for a bank loan and does not require a financial outlay from the city. Julie Coker, senior vice president for the Convention Division at Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be testifying in favor of authorizing the TIF at the hearing.

Twenty years ago, she said, there were only about 5,000 hotel rooms in Center City. “Since that time, the city has strategically invested in doubling the number of hotel rooms in the downtown area to more than 11,000. New development is critical to shaping Philadelphia’s vision for a world-class city in the long-term and helping to bring convention business and travelers to the city.”

Lenfest finds it “hypocritical” the hotels, which are signatories to the letter opposing the tax breaks for the W/Element, received tax breaks to build their hotels. He complained the other hotels were comparing apples to oranges in their analysis.

“Many of the hotels were a refit of an existing building and significantly smaller so the real measure is looking at the types of public monies as a percent of project costs,” said Lenfest. “The existing hotels took public money and in many cases they took significant grants that are coming out of the city and the state’s pocket that don’t have to be repaid. Most of the ‘public’ money that I have secured and that is proposed requires repayment.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

What New Yorkers need to know about the…

A measles outbreak in New York City has spread further, the health department said Wednesday.

Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 16: 'The Americans,'…

'The Americans' Philip and Elizabeth face "painful turns" in their missions. Maybe next week they'll have a nice easy mission with no moral ambiguity? Probably…

Movies

Curtain raiser: The Tribeca Film Festival arrives this…

The Tribeca Film Festival begins its two-week run in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, boasting dozens and dozens of films of all stripes.

The Word

Paul Walker's brothers will replace him in 'Fast…

Ever since a car crash took Paul Walker's life, fans have wondered what the "Fast & Furious" franchise would do without one of its most beloved stars.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

NHL

Islanders back to rebuilding mode after disappointing season

One season after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, the Islanders finished 2013-14 with a 34-37-11 record.

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.