A plan to replace beloved Center City diner Little Pete's with a glitzy boutique hotel is on hold until early next year amid opposition to a bill that would clear the way for the massive proposed redevelopment at 17th and Chancellor Streets.
The concerns of a hospitality labor union, a Center City civic group, and restaurant loyalists have stalled a rezoning bill sponsored by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson that would allow a 12-story Hudson Hotel to be built on a block that has been home to the restaurant since the 1970s.
Johnson said he kept his bill from going to a vote last week so talks could continue between the developer and a labor union concerned about the quality of planned Hudson jobs.
"The key, for me, is making sure there is a level of community input," Johnson said Friday. In putting off the vote, Johnson said he was acting on a request from the developer, who remained in talks with constituents.
"I think the Hudson Hotel is a great project for the City of Philadelphia," Johnson said, "and I'm going to make sure the project comes to fruition."
Unite Here Local 274, which represents private-sector hotel and food workers, has been sharing its concerns about Hudson jobs with developer Chancellor Hotels L.L.C.
Several messages left for union officials were not returned, nor was a message to Clemens Construction president Stephen Pouppirt, who leads the development partnership.
The project would be the first Hudson Hotel outside Manhattan. The budding brand is owned by publicly traded Morgans Hotel Group, which also owns the Delano and Mondrian chains.
Developers have said they would obliterate a nearly block-long, multistory garage and adjoining Little Pete's, on the corner, to build the hotel. That sparked a Twitter campaign by feverishly loyal customers trying to spare Little Pete's, which is among a dying breed of 24-hour downtown diners.
Also opposed to the bill is the Center City Residents' Association, whose president said the board had issues with any site-specific zoning legislation.
Toward that end, the group requested from the developer and recently received a cost-benefit analysis of the project and an assessment of its potential detriments, and would review them, association president Jeff Braff said.
"We haven't opined, as a board, about the project itself," Braff said, when asked whether the association supported the Hudson proposal.
The 300-room hotel would include a rooftop terrace, a sky lounge/bar, and underground parking, according to materials submitted to the City Planning Commission, which recommended Council approve a zoning bill allowing for a taller hotel than currently permitted at the site.
Family-owned Little Pete's would like to stay put or even open anew in the Hudson. But the lease requires no such accommodation, said owner Peter Koutroubas, after whom the diner is named.
The zoning-change bill could go before Council as early as late January or early February for a vote.