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The zoning board and audience get an architectural history of the neighborhood around 40th and Pine St. Credit: IVONA BOROJE

Area residents are still up in arms about a proposed hotel at 40th and Pine streets - and they don't seem to be backing down.

At a zoning committee meeting of the Spruce Hill Community Association, developers presented their proposal for an 11-story extended-stay hotel that would be located at 40th and Pine streets. But local residents and grassroots organizations responded with overwhelming disapproval and hostility.

During the three-hour meeting, the only area resident who voiced support for the hotel was greeted with jeers from the crowd of about 50 people.

The hotel, which is slated to be called Campus-Inn, has been touted by developers as a response to the need for a long-term hotel to house families visiting patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The proposed site is owned by the University and would be leased to developers if plans are approved by Penn's Board of Trustees and Philadelphia zoning officials.

Opposition to the project, led by the Woodland Terrace Association and individual residents, attacked the coalition of developers and the University on issues from the hotel's planned height to traffic.

Marianna Thomas, a preservation architect for the Woodland Terrace Historic District, said an 11-story building is inappropriate in what she deems a low-rise "suburban" neighborhood. Though she commends the project's plan to renovate the dilapidated mansion currently on the hotel site, Thomas said a building of 11 stories is a "violation of the neighborhood."

David Gradwell, a local resident who fears that the hotel's construction could produce an onslaught of similar high-rise projects, was greeted by cheers when he said, "What's going to happen when Penn casts its envious eyes upon Clark Park?"

Many residents also expressed worries that the difficult parking situation in the area will only get worse, despite plans for a valet parking system that will, according to developer Tom Lussenhop, keep cars from crowding the street.

"The solution of valet parking is not a solution," said Magali Larson, a former Sociology professor at Penn and member of Woodland Terrace Association.

College senior Evan Fenaroli, whose backyard is adjacent to the proposed site, said although he will not be living there if construction begins, he thinks the project is irresponsible.

"I don't see an issue with the design itself," Fenaroli said. "It's the setting that bothers me. It's somebody's back yard."

Asset manager for Penn Real Estate Esaul Sanchez said Penn had received nearly 20 proposals for the site, which most concur is in need of renovation, but "nothing else really had traction."

Despite the current conditions of the site, local resident Chris O'Donnell urged the Spruce Hill Zoning Committee to oppose the project.

"The nearby home owners all - and I don't mean most or many of us - all unanimously oppose this project," O'Donnell said.

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