Hotel/condo tower project hopes to revitalize South Broad Street

SLS International Rendering
SLS International. Credit: KPF

A 47-story tower planned for Broad and Spruce streets is intended to act as a “catalyst” for the future of development to the south of Center City, said architect Gene Kohn at a press conference yesterday.

“The city needs new tax base, it needs growth, it needs excitement,” Kohn said of the SLS International Hotel & Residence project, which his firm, Kohn Pedersen & Fox, designed. “We need some development, or the picture is not pretty for the future.”

But Mayor Michael Nutter also urged Kohn, developer Carl Dranoff and SBE hotels magnate Sam Nazarian to keep in mind the history of the location where they plan to build SLS International Hotel & Residence — 301-311 South Broad Street, the longtime home of Philadelphia International Records. It was also where former Mayor F. Wilson Goode had offices. The building is still in use today but suffered significant fire damage in 2010.

“We need to be mindful of that history. I ask you to incorporate the recognition of that history into this,” Nutter said.

In fact, according to Dranoff, the name of the $200 million project, SLS International, is already a nod to Philadelphia International – which was famous for the “Philadelphia sound,” showcased in the recordings of artists such as The Three Degrees, Teddy Pendergass, and The O’Jays.

Kenny Gamble, who along with Leon Huff ran Philadelphia International, is selling the building to Dranoff Properties and was pleased that the name “International” will remain, he said at the press conference.

“I think it helps keep the memory of what happened here and gives it more of an attraction,” Gamble said.

Passersby on the street had a variety of reactions to the look and location of the project.

“They’re going to put that here? Wow,” said Benjamin St. Fort, 18, after seeing a rendering. “I guess it’s good, if they think it will help us.”

Plans for the project were unveiled Tuesday at the Kimmel Center, across the street from the future site of the project.

Developer Carl Dranoff said SLS International will be the tallest residential-focused building in Pennsylvania, at 562 feet tall – taller than the William Penn statue on top of City Hall.

The project calls for condos from floors 20 to 47, hotel rooms on lower floors, and amenities including restaurants, a gym, and a spa closest to the ground level.

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