$420M Waldorf Coming to Philadelphia

A 58-story Waldorf=Astoria Hotel and Residences has been announced for Philadelphia, set to open in 2012. The $420 million mixed-use project will be co-developed by Mariner Commercial Properties Inc. and Gatehouse Capital Corp. The hotel–to be managed by an affiliate of the Hilton Hotels Corp.–will be located at the northeast corner of 15th and Chestnut Streets. Tim Mahoney, president & CEO of Mariner, and Brook Lenfest acquired the site in 2000. The 670-foot-tall structure (pictured) will be the city’s sixth-tallest building, and will contain 175 guest rooms. The hotel lobby, on Chestnut Street, will feed into a sky lobby 155 feet above street level. A promenade will connect the two restaurants at the east and west ends of the building, paying homage to the Peacock Alley lobby promenade in the namesake New York hotel. The hotel will also feature a 5,600-square-foot ballroom, 3,500 square feet of pre-function space that looks out to City Hall, and a 2,500-square-foot junior ballroom. The property will also feature 136 for-sale residences, with prices starting at $1 million. The majority of the units will feature one, two, or three bedrooms, Eight custom bi-level penthouses will have internal private elevators, staircases and walkout terraces. Residents will also have access to a full range of hotel amenities, such as a 24-hour room service and the concierge staff. Sustainability will also be a part of the development. Some of the green components include a vegetative roof system and an active chilled beam HVAC system. The development team has hired Re:Vision Architects of Philadelphia, a LEED consultant, to see that the hotel reaches the sustainability standards set by the developers. The announcement of a large, urban hotel development comes at a time when many major hotel construction projects have been stalled or canceled as a result of the credit crisis and the faltering economy. But Mahoney said that he thinks the timing is right for this type of project. “There are very few projects being announced today,” Mahoney said. He said that there is money available for hotel projects with good sponsorship that have a well-known flag, but he believes lending terms should begin to become more favorable for borrowers in six to nine months. Falling commodity prices may mean that the developers could see substantial savings when they buy construction materials, such as steel and concrete, which will be late next year. “We could see savings of 15 to 20 percent,” Mahoney said. Groundbreaking is now set for January 2010. But the new project could be facing some competition. Philadelphia has a substantial hotel construction pipeline, according to a recent report from Lodging Econometrics. The city has a pipeline count that is 20 percent or more than the current guest room stock, one of only six U.S. cities at that level. The others are New York, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, and Washington, D.C,