Officials helped to break ground on what will be the mixed-use campus’ first hotel.
With his family’s roots being in Bella Vista, which translates as “pretty view,” one might presume Louis A. Cicalese highly values vivid visuals. Come next fall, the developer plans to have many eye-catching visions for South Philly visitors.
He joined other dignitaries Oct. 18 at The Philadelphia Navy Yard for a groundbreaking ceremony for the 1,200-acre urban campus’ first hotel: A $34-million, 172-room Courtyard by Marriott.
The five-story spectacle, which is slated for a fall 2013 opening, also will offer guests 2,000 square feet of meeting space; an upscale restaurant and lounge complete with park views; and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
Hundreds of guests joined the officials as they detailed that Liberty Property/Synterra L.P., a venture between Malvern-headquartered Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners, 4747 S. Broad St., announced the project last year and began discussions with Cicalese, a California-based Ensemble Hotel Partners employee, to add a lodging area to The Navy Yard. With input from the Center City-situated Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., the entities have sought to complement the expanse’s plethora of companies in the industrial, manufacturing, office and research and development sectors. To Cicalese, the location seems ideal.
“We believe that the Philadelphia market is quite strong for hotels, and the uniqueness of The Navy Yard creates a market of its own,” he said of his employer’s initial local undertaking.
Fishtown-based Erdy McHenry Architecture is handling the design of the 99,000-square-foot quarters, which will occupy 2.4 acres, with University City’s Intech Construction serving as the design-build contractor. As Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. predictions have The Navy Yard set to contain more than 120 establishments and 10,000 employees by year’s end, the involved parties are looking for the endeavor to further Philadelphia’s business brawn.
“This new hotel is a great addition to the growing and dynamic business campus being built at The Navy Yard,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said. “This development will serve the demand of the companies and people located there and will provide a boost for our local economy.”
The second-term leader, who often has touted job creation, drew applause when announcing the short- and long-term benefits of the hotel, which workers have begun erecting at Rouse Boulevard and Intrepid Avenue.
“The site of another crane, the sounds of heavy equipment, I got to tell you, I love the smell of money in the morning,” Nutter said, “because what this represents is more investment here in the City of Philadelphia, 400 construction jobs, 50 to 60 permanent jobs.”
The nation’s first naval shipyard, The Navy Yard operated for almost 200 years before the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission ended most activities Sept. 30, 1995. The City became its landlord and owner five years later, with input from the city’s development corporation leading to a 2004 master plan that aimed to convert the space into a mixed-use campus. The organization’s real estate group oversees the yard’s management and development, making last week’s occasion a delight for corporation president John Grady.
“This idea of an urban campus, where we combine manufacturing and research and office, is really the wave of the future,” he said, also mentioning that residential housing could become a Navy Yard component.
His employer teamed with New York’s CanAm Enterprises LLC to finance the Courtyard’s development through The Welcome Fund, which provides low-interest capital for Philly projects that will yield heavy job creation. The hotel will become the sixth property Liberty Property/Synterra L.P. has added to The Navy Yard Corporate Center in the last eight years.
“With all of the activity that is happening in The Navy Yard and with GlaxoSmithKline, [5 Crescent Drive] Iroko [Pharmaceuticals, 100 Rouse Blvd.] and the other new and existing companies, there is a strong need for a hotel with upscale amenities such as a full-service restaurant and lounge and meeting facilities,” Cicalese said.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Marriott International Inc. operates 3,187 U.S. locations, including 116 in Pennsylvania, with the 85-year-old company to make The Courtyard its 10th Philly venue. As The Navy Yard has a commitment to cutting edge designs, the spot will further the emphasis on modernity with a rain-screen system comprised of alternating metal panels and glazing. The façade will vary in color and shadow depending upon the time of day and intensity of sunlight.
The development corporation encourages new building projects’ heads to register with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design program, with the hopes that their creations will gain at least silver certification, according to The Navy Yard’s website. Many Navy Yard locations have obtained or will acquire LEED distinction, and the Courtyard will join them upon its completion, Cicalese said.
“There have not been any snags, per se, only the usual challenges like building to a budget, financing the project and designing a hotel that all were satisfied with,” he said, noting work will occur in one continuous phase.
“The Navy Yard is a magnet for forward-thinking companies and a true workplace for the future,” John Gattuso, Liberty Property’s senior vice president and regional director, added. “This important amenity will further the emergence of The Navy Yard as the place for companies seeking a dynamic, innovative workforce.”
February contains the fewest days, but this year’s version bore a pair of big announcements for The Philadelphia Navy Yard.
South Philadelphia has become a little sweeter, thanks to Charles P. Pizzi, the president and chief executive officer of Tasty Baking Co. May 4 marked the official grand opening of the company’s 345,000-square-foot facility 4. Pizzi brought products that have reigned as area staples since the company debuted in 1914 to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. His ingenuity also will allow South Philadelphia to become a key location in an environmental revolution.
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