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Developers' plans to build an 11-story extended-stay hotel at 40th and Pine Streets received unanimous approval from the architectural committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission last week.

The committee's decision has no legal bearing on the hotel's construction, but its recommendation will be factored into the decision of the full historical commission. Developers need the commission's approval because they want to build the hotel next to an old Italianate mansion.

On Dec. 12, the developers will present a revised plan to the commission for its approval.

The architectural committee stipulated in its endorsement of the project that developers modify two aspects of the hotel's restaurant portion, according to Tom Lussenhop, one of the project's developers and a former Penn managing director of real estate.

In accordance with that stipulation, Lussenhop said, architects are considering alternative building materials and a different organization of windows on the restaurant's fa‡ade to "make the historic mansion more prominent in the eyes of pedestrians."

David Fineman, a lawyer representing local residents who oppose the hotel's construction, said his clients were "disappointed" by the Nov. 25 decision.

However, Fineman said, his clients "will continue to object to it as it goes before the historical commission and will take court appeals" on future hotel-related decisions with which they disagree.

The hotel has been a source of contention between developers and area residents for the past year.

Some community members object to the hotel because they believe its planned size and design do not fit the character of the neighborhood.

But developers say the hotel would provide visitors to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with much-needed extended-stay housing.

Fineman said he believes the developers will be unable to get zoning approval because "the historical nature of the mansion is compromised" by the planned hotel.

Yet he added that he has "no expectations" for the outcome of the Dec. 12 historical commission hearing.

Lussenhop, on the other hand, said he was "optimistic" about the hearing.

"In any complex urban development project that has multiple review processes, you come to expect the unexpected, but we've listened hard and made changes," he said.

The historical commission did not return repeated calls for comment on this article.

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