PlanPhilly

Land where residential portion of Race Street hotel development was set to go is now up for sale.

    • Cushman & Wakefield listing
      Cushman & Wakefield listing
    • Proposed development at Fourth and Race.
      Proposed development at Fourth and Race.
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A .67-acre slice of the Old City property where developer Robert Ambrosi of Arc Properties plans to build a hotel/entertainment/retail complex is up for sale, as part of a refinancing agreement.

This portion of the parcel is where Ambrosi had planned to eventually build a 60-unit residential building, with ground-floor retail.

“We're probably selling off the lot on Fourth Street. We just listed with Cushman & Wakefield,” Ambrosi said in a Monday phone interview. The refinancing agreement was reached two weeks ago, he said, and this is part of that.

The listing on the Cushman & Wakefield site calls the property – currently a parking lot -  “a multi-family and retail mixed-use redevelopment site.”

The listing says: “This 0.67-acre site has as-of-right zoning through a development agreement that allows for an 80' high multifamily building on a 13,936 sf lot plus 14,768 sf of ground level retail in an adjacent 29,068 sf existing structure. Not part of the subject offering is a neighboring lot where a full-service hotel has been proposed.”

The sale could be a good thing for the neighborhood, said Old City Civic Association zoning committee member Joe Schiavo, as it could mean the housing portion would be built sooner than Ambrosi was planning.

The entire property had previously been zoned light industrial. Old City community organizations were fine changing the zoning to C3, mixed-use commercial, and were receptive to the hotel, housing and retail components of the development.

They did not like the entertainment/music venue proposed for the ground floor of the hotel, however.

Old City Civic Association submitted a detailed letter to City Council asking that portions of the bill that gave approval to specific uses be taken out. They were not. (see previous coverage).

When trying to quell residents' concerns in the past, Ambrosi told them that he would never include any nuisance entity because it would harm the hotel's business, and that is the heart of his development. He also said that all the residential portion of the development – which was going to be on the parcel now up for sale – would act as a buffer between his development and nearby, existing residences. But when residents asked Ambrosi if this portion of the project could be built first, he said that wasn't feasible econmically - the hotel had to come first.

Schiavo said anyone who buys the property will inherit the zoning changes as described in the ordinance, and he still wishes that ordinance had been written differently.

But "the good part is there is the potential that something will get built sooner rather than later," Schiavo said. "The residential part was pretty much the 3rd phase of the project, and this way, it might move up the timeline."

The Cushman & Wakefield listing states: “This investment opportunity is being marketed without an asking price. A call-for-offers date will be announced within approximately four weeks.”

Ambrosi said Monday he is eager to begin construction of the hotel, but is not certain when that will be. “We're waiting for a couple of technical things to be completed,” he said. “There are some technical things we need to handle with some of our tenants.”

Ambrosi said he hopes to have the tenant issues resolved in about 30 days, and that construction will certainly begin before the end of the year.

In the past, Ambrosi had talked about having a country-music venue on the hotel's ground floor. Old City residents said he told them he was in talks with Toby Keith's I (heart) This Bar and Grille.  Ambrosi said Monday that the entertainment venue might indeed still be country-music themed.

Also in the past, the Starwood was said to be the operator of the planned hotel.  Ambrosi said he could not go into the specifics of the management company nor the entertainment venue Monday. “Those are the agreements were working on right now,” he said.


Reach the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com


About the author

Kellie Patrick Gates, Waterfront, casinos, planning reporter

Kellie Patrick Gates writes about planning, neighborhood development and the Central Delaware Waterfront. A journalist for more than two decades, she  worked for daily newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and South Florida before coming to Philadelphia in 2003 to write for the Inquirer. Her work has appeared on PlanPhilly since 2007, and she also writes Love, the Inquirer's weekly wedding column. A native of Elk County, Pa., Kellie lives with her husband, Gary, and their dog and two cats.

Follow her on Twitter @KelliePGates



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