Students and residents react to new hotel
March 1, 2011, 4:55 am · Updated March 1, 2011, 12:00 am·
With a Hilton hotel now under construction at 41st and Walnut streets, Campus Apartments is offering not only the latest in upscale residence but also hundreds of Philadelphia jobs.
“Right now, the project is just getting started,” Campus Apartments CEO David Adelman, who proposed the project last year, said. “When it’s finished, there’ll be at least 250 jobs.”
The hotel is under construction in the lot next to the Walnut Hill Restaurant School.
By May 2012, Homewood Suites will be the first extended stay hotel in University City and Philadelphia’s first recipient of an EnergyWorks loan for a green building.
“People come from all over the world to CHOP and Penn Med,” Adelman said. “The hotel is a convenient place for them to stay as their children or relatives get treatment.”
But while the facility — the second Hilton hotel location in University City — will mark the latest expansion of the Walnut Street corridor, not everyone is enamored with its presence.
West Philadelphia resident Robert Moore is concerned that the jobs the hotel will create will not go to local residents.
“It might create hundreds of jobs, but what about the dishwasher, or laundromat — the little man right across the street?” asked West Philadelphia resident Robert Moore. “Students are too busy taking classes to bother with protesting” the hotel’s construction.
Moore, who sells shoes and clothes a few blocks west, watched tractors dig a new foundation. “It makes no sense,” he added.
Homewood Suites will feature about 130 rooms on nine to 10 floors and will cater to patient families of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as professionals who require longer-term stays.
Despite the Suites’ newly broken ground, some students remain ambivalent about the University’s reach west of campus.
“The neighborhood will lose some of its old feel, but I would like to think there’s room for the old and new,” Psychology graduate student Justin Landy said.
Other residents do not mind the hotel’s presence, as long as the height of the structure does not exceed that of other tall buildings.
“If the Radian and Fresh Grocer are already there, it shouldn’t be a problem for the look,” School of Medicine student Adnan Hirad said. “If Walnut Street were all rowhomes, then no way. Not higher than that.”
Paul Singh, manager of the International Food and Spices store at 4203 Walnut St., feels optimistic about the hotel’s construction. “It should be good for business,“ he said. “We serve lunch and snacks. We’re hoping [hotel guests] will come in.”
Additionally, residents anticipate issues with street parking, which is already tight. They believe it will become more cramped if hotel guests bring cars close to the traffic-dense area.
Homewood Suites represents part of the city’s larger plan to develop new commercial space while adding jobs to boost the economy.
Mayor Michael Nutter’s Office has touted the Suites, along with the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia Naval Business Center, as expansion initiatives for the city.
But for Moore, the plan for the franchise looks “money-hungry.”
“Why build it on Walnut?” Moore said. “Put in something useful. We’re suffering in this economy. But they put it here —boom — just like that.”
Note: This article was updated from its original version since it previously incorrectly stated the hotel will be Penn’s first development project west of 41st Street. The hotel is a Campus Apartments project.