It seems like one day there was a hole in the ground at 12th and Arch streets and the next day there was a nine-story hotel with Hilton Home2 Suites banners everywhere. Those with an elephant's memory for Center City hotel deals might recall that it wasn't all that long ago that the block was going to host a W Hotel. That deal went south with the recession, and what was going to be a luxury hotel in 2008 will be a "focused service" property in 2013.
Jake Wurzak, principal at the eponymous hotel group partnering with the Parkway Corporation on the new hotel breaks down the jargon.
A focused service property, Wurzak, says, is one where essential service elements are intact—think housekeeping and front desk staff—but where luxury-level elements like concierge are eliminated to keep prices down for guests. "Technology means you can live without a concierge," he says. "Particularly in a city."
The 248 suites will start at 365 square feet each. In keeping with Hilton's Home2 brand, each room will feature a connectivity panel and a working wall. The working wall—a single piece of furniture—spans the entire long wall of each room and includes space for a 42" flat-screen TV, a wardrobe, a desk and a kitchenette (complete with efficient diswasher and microwave). The connectivity panel allows guests to sync their Mac devices to their TV to watch anything available on iTunes. Say goodbye to old-fashioned in-room movies.
The hotel will feature an open lobby, meeting space, a pool and a fitness center. While most Home2s elsewhere host a jogging track, the Philadelphia version will feature a Wii lounge specifically designed for practicing yoga.
Wurzak and his partners are betting about 30 percent of the hotel's business will come from the Convention Center across the street. But they expect huge corporate demand as well. Occupancy rates in the area regularly stand at 79 to 80 percent, Wurzak says.
The $60 million hotel is being financed through a patchwork of partnerships. The Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is kicking in $2.75 million and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) is contributing $5 million in HUD loans. The PIDC and the Reinvestment Fund secured a further $3 million from EnergyWorks. That funding comes with the stipulation that the property make sustainable modifications and install energy-efficient appliances.
The hotel—the first new construction hotel in Philadelphia in more than a decade— is scheduled to open in August. But Wurzak is hopeful that owners will be able to announce one of two ground-floor restaurants later this winter.