February 24, 1997
Deni Kasrel Staff Writer
If Dan Neducsin has his way, Manayunk will become the site for an upscale, boutique 100-room hotel in another two years. Neducsin, along with his partners, Derek Davis and Allen Newman, are the principals behind Main Street Restaurants Inc. that owns and operates five restaurants in Manayunk.
They plan a hotel on Venice Island, now the site of Arroyo Grille, the restaurant they built on the island last year.
Financing is the key to any hotel development. "I have a number of people who are pushing me to do this because they want to invest in the project," Neducsin said. He declined to offer any specific name though did say two possible backers are a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and a locally based investment banker. The partnership is open to various possibilities insofar as to how the deal could be structured, including syndication.
Projected cost for the hotel depends on several factors, one of the primary ones being how many rooms it has. Neducsin said a ballpark figure for a 100-room hotel -- an ideal number for the desired boutique quality -- would be in the range of $20 million to $25 million.
Currently, Neducsin, who as head of Neducsin Properties owns more than 30 storefronts along Manayunk's Main Street as well as owning about 200 apartments in that same area, is busy putting together a business plan. His best estimate at this time for when the hotel might be operational is about two years from now. "Between the plans and the permits, that's about how long it takes," he said.
Venice Island, the site for proposed hotel, is co-owned by Neducsin and William Green, the former Philadelphia mayor. Green would have an option to be a partner in the hotel.
Newman said they're still trying to figure out exactly the right place on the island to erect a hotel. "The question is, where, on the balance, will be the best view and the most beneficial spot?" he said.
Newman's hunch is the premier spot may be where the island nears Green Lane. At that point it narrows and a structure set there could face down the Schuylkill River. "If you take a look, it's very interesting at that point. There's rock formations and rapids. It's not just simply a body of water," he said.
The partnership is confident a hotel situated in Manayunk makes good sense.
Neducsin notes that the nearby Adam's Mark on City Avenue has the highest rate of occupancy in the city and the Marriott in Conshohocken is a close second. Both hotels have average occupancy rates in the 90 percent range. Neducsin said a reason for this is that both hotels sit between the Philadelphia Convention Center and the Valley Forge Convention Center.
Manayunk has a mystique, said Newman, and that will add to the hotel's appeal, as will the fact that Manayunk has lots of interesting shops and an assortment of upscale restaurants.
"Main Liners come to Manayunk for the fine dining and retail. You have to figure out-of-towners would want to do the same.
"Also, some people find if they're coming to the city they may not want to stay in the city. If you're staying out here and have to get to the city, we're all of 10 or 12 minutes away."
The partnership wants the building to fit in with the rest of Manayunk's character and atmosphere, and in light of that, their intent is to have a boutique-type hotel, along the lines of those created by Ian Schrager, owner of Morgan's, The Royalton and The Paramount, in New York and the Mondrian in Los Angeles, or those of San Francisco's Kimpton Group that runs the Prescott Hotel. "We see it as being below a Four Seasons and above a Marriott," Neducsin said.
The Prescott Hotel houses the restaurant Postrio. Its chef is the famed Wolfgang Puck. "I think Derek [Davis] is Philadelphia's Wolfgang Puck," Neducsin said. "The hotel will have a restaurant and Derek will come up with the concept there."
@1997, Philadelphia Business Journal