Broad Street Garage to be Replaced by ‘Upscale’ Hotel from Choice Hotels?

A press release by the hotelier says they've partnered with Pearl Properties for a 206-room hotel at Broad and Locust.

Corner of Broad and Locust | Photo: James Jennings

Corner of Broad and Locust | Photo: James Jennings

It looks as though Center City is going to have another hotel project on its hands in the not-too-distant future, and it’s front and center on the Avenue of the Arts.

A recent press release from Choice Hotels says it has signed an agreement with “franchise partner Pearl Properties … to develop a new Cambria hotel & suites in Philadelphia, PA.” The planned location? You guessed it (or read the sub-headline), it’s the corner of Broad and Locust, where owner Pearl Properties is in the process of demolishing the former parking garage. The Cambria is set to feature 206 rooms and is expected to be completed in 2017.

Back in August, we put you on to a plumbing permit that signaled the demise of the rundown garage. At the time, a representative from ParkAmerica, its former operator, told us that he had heard the building was to be taken down “brick-by-brick” sometime after Pope Francis left town in September or October. Though a representative from Pearl Properties couldn’t be reached about the project, the press release states it in plain terms, and confirms some rumors we’d been hearing for some time now–yet another hotel is being touted for South Broad Street.

Choice Hotels has two Cambria brands in Pennsylvania, both of which are in the Pittsburgh area. The hotel will be operated by Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company, and the release states it will feature “a contemporary bistro, Social Circle, serving a menu of local specialties created by Chef Michael DeMaria; liquor, wine, beer and freshly prepared grab-and-go gourmet salads and sandwiches; and a barista bar.”

A “first-class” restaurant is also planned for the ground floor.

A representative from Choice Hotels didn’t have any further information when reached for comment, so it’s unclear what the building might look like, and if it will be solely used as a hotel or if apartment/condos are in the mix.  Compared to the planned Cambria at Broad and Locust, the iteration in downtown Pittsburgh features 142 suites. It was built five years ago, and was recently purchased for $16.75 million as the new owners look to upgrade the rooms and expand the ballroom.

According to the release, all Cambria hotels have a larger lobby for socializing, oversized rooms and the “latest technology” for guests who want to stay connected.

Interestingly enough, though both of Cambria’s brands are near Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania website doesn’t list any sightseeing activities near the Steel City. Instead, it recommends you start your trip at “state’s cultural hub, Philadelphia.” It also lists Hershey Park and Gettysburg National Military Park as other top destinations.

If realized, Cambria will join a crowded scene on South Broad Street, which currently includes the Ritz-Carlton, the Hyatt at the Bellvue and the Doubletree Hotel, the latter being its next door neighbor. That doesn’t include those projects that are currently in the works, such as the glassy W and Element at 15th and Chestnut and the boutique condo/hotel project called the SLS LUX at Broad and Spruce.



Cambria Times Square | Image via Choice Hotels

As an astute reader pointed out in the comments, it might be more appropriate for us to compare our planned Cambria to the newly constructed high-rise on West 28th Street in Manhattan, which opened in July. Though it only has 135 rooms, it does seem to fit the profile of what we could hope to expect at such a prominent corner. Here’s what it looks like.

It’s also worth pointing out that Cambria just opened 21-story, 196-room hotel in Times Square, which REBUSINESS ONLINE reports is the largest Cambria in the country. We’re not math people, but the Philadelphia proposal tops that number.

A second representative from Choice Hotels reached out to us via email to point out that Philly’s Cambria will be more like the Times Square high-rise and not the Pittsburgh version: “This property [in Times Square] is a much better reflection of what the Philadelphia property will look like with its urban courtyard and design.”