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

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.