Sunday, November 3, 2013

W Hotel

Tentative plans for a skyline altering hotel near City Hall may have encountered a slight hiccup. Hotel owners sick of competition have created their own NIMBY, "Concerned Hotel Owners of Philadelphia." Of course the difference between a NIMBY and a corporate action group is all in motivation.

NIMBYs, however ridiculous as they may be, are concerned citizens with what they perceive to be legitimate quality of life concerns. Corporate action groups are all about lobbying for profit.

CHOP penned a letter to, then edited it, then edited it again, calling for the city to withhold any subsidies in the construction of a W Hotel at 15th and Chestnut, subsidies most CHOP members received themselves.

The erratic letter focused primarily on the Pennsylvania Convention Center, suggesting any subsidies are a governmental attempt to offset the cost behind the disastrous expansion of the center, more subtly suggesting that the only people who rent hotel rooms in Center City are conventioneers.

Of course this ridiculous assertion ends when the W Hotel is complete. W wouldn't be investing in Philadelphia if it didn't see a market here. Subsidies may help build the skyscraper but its tenant knows it needs customers to profit.

Those profits are what these concerned hotel owners are interested in. If any one of them was so strapped for cash they'd be cashing out on their real estate and leaving town. They aren't. They're frustrated with the fact that their lackluster hotels might loose a few customers to something as lavish as a W skyscraper in Center City.

Marriott Downtown is a member of CHOP. It's interesting that a hotel chain with three franchises on one block is campaigning against purported industry saturation.

It's business, people. If you aren't good at it you die. You don't start a lobby group to muscle out the kinds of businesses that make Philadelphia a better city.

If the city decides to cede to CHOP's demands, W will be free to hire market rate labor to offset Philadelphia's notoriously costly trade unions. If W decides to go ahead without subsidies it will be interesting to see if the city support their construction crew.

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