The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
City inspectors have concluded that the Porto Vista Hotel & Suites — the Little Italy project we wrote about in June — does indeed have apartments, not just hotel rooms.
The project had been approved to be built as a mix of 74 studio apartments and 119 hotel rooms, a total of 193 units.
I’d heard a few questions being asked around Little Italy about whether or not the building had apartments available, or if it was just a hotel and a restaurant, The Glass Door. I checked in with planners from the Centre City Development Corp., downtown’s redevelopment arm — and they had also heard complaints from nearby residents who weren’t sure if the developer had built the apartments he’d promised in the planning process.
So I went to check out the project. I couldn’t find the apartments, despite repeated attempts. The hotel’s guest services manager, took me on a tour of the hotel, but made no mention of any apartments. The developer didn’t return my calls. His daughter told me there were apartments there, but that she didn’t know what part of the building the apartments were in, and that the building had 193 hotel rooms. The developer’s website lists apartments for rent in three other downtown properties, but makes no mention of apartments at the Porto Vista.
By the time I wrote my story, CCDC had asked the city’s Neighborhood Code Compliance Department to investigate the unclear situation, which they’ve done in recent weeks.
City inspectors met with the developer, Moe Siry, and determined that he had technically followed the building code for what was required in constructing those 74 apartment units, said Bob Vacchi, deputy director of the city’s Neighborhood Code Compliance Department.
In addition, in order to be considered apartments, the units have to be rented for at least 30 days at a time. The inspectors asked Siry to provide monthly lease agreements for the apartments.
Siry showed them 21 lease agreements, Vacchi said.
As for the other 53 apartment units: “According to the owner, they are vacant,” Vacchi said.
The city has found no violations of either building code or use, and as such will not be issuing any sort of civil penalties citation, Vacchi said.
But, Vacchi said, the city has asked Siry to update both his rental website and his hotel website to accurately reflect the numbers of each type of unit. Currently, Siry’s rental website contains no mention of the Porto Vista units, and the Porto Vista’s hotel website lists the property as having 209 hotel rooms.
“We found some issues in just kind of locating the units,” Vacchi said. “And we’re considering requesting him to set up some physical signage on the outside.”
The developer will likely be given between two weeks and a month to make those changes to his websites and make the existence of the apartments clearer, Vacchi said.