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

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Local

Philly gets Flyered up at Flyers pep rally…

Monty Gee doesn't need another rally. He's ready for the parade. The loud and boisterous and colorfully clothed big man has lived and breathed Philadelphia…

Local

Could this be the end of ICE holds…

Mayor Michael Nutter directed city agencies to stop cooperating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer holds via executive order today.

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

Books

Becoming friends with New York City's oldest known…

"The Life and Times of Richard Musto" tells the story, through a poem, of the oldest known homeless man in New York City.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

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.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.