Construction Permits Issued for 15-Story Overbuild Hotel Project in Chinatown

AC Hotel by Marriott philadelphia rendering
Rendering of the AC Hotel by Marriott Philadelphia at 228-38 N. 13th St.

The art deco building at 228-38 N. 13th St. in Chinatown was designed by William Harold Lee in 1949 and was originally home to Warner Brothers Films. NFL Films later took over the space. The building was added to the Philadelphia register of historic places in 2008 and was last used by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Philadelphia.

In 2014, plans to overbuild the historic structure for use as a hotel came to light. Details of the plans have shifted over time, but no significant work has happened on the site over the last six or seven years. The property ended up trading hands in March of 2019 for $4.5 million, which lead some to think that the hotel proposal was dead and that something else would be built instead.

228-38 N. 13th St. in Chinatown
The historic building at 228-38 N. 13th St. in Chinatown
AC Hotel by Marriott Philadelphia
Rendering of the AC Hotel by Marriott Philadelphia at 228-38 N. 13th St.

It looks like the hotel plan is definitely still on. In January of this year, foundation permits were issued that specifically mention a 15-story hotel structure. Then, just yesterday, commercial building permits were issued for the “ERECTION OF A HIGH RISE BUILDING TO TIE INTO EXISTING HISTORICAL FACADE.” The permit mentions that the building will be 15 stories. It also looks like there will be some sort of ground floor lounge or restaurants space.

To our knowledge, this building will be the location of an AC Hotel by Marriott. However, those plans may have changed. Past plans for the property called for 14 underground parking spaces and a rooftop pool. Zoning permits were issued in 2018 to remove the underground parking spaces. There is no word on if the current iteration calls for parking or a rooftop pool.

Construction permits have been issued for this project in the past, so we won’t get excited until we see work underway on the site. However, we would be thrilled if this project finally does move forward (we’re optimistic). It will add some energy to a block in Chinatown that is currently dominated by surface parking lots and will stretch the skyline northward. The location also seems like it will be perfect for a hotel since it’s so close to the Convention Center and is walkable to a ton of Center City attractions.

How do you feel about this project? Do you think it will finally move forward this time around?

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