PHILADELPHIA — The Inn on Locust, which helped redefine a seedy section of Locust Street in Philadelphia, is set to return to its roots as a boutique hotel after the owner toyed with the idea of converting it into condominiums.

AFC Realty Capital Inc. of New York bought the four-story, 20,000-square-foot property at 1234 Locust St. in 2005 out of a bankruptcy and planned to spend about $10 million converting it into 15 condos.

Those plans were shelved amid a turning in the downtown condo market and the residential sector in general. At one point AFC considered selling it, said Michael Sonnabend with AFC.

In the end, a hotel appeared to be the best option. Plans call for turning the Georgian Revival into a 24-room upscale hotel that will be renamed the Independent.

“We’re very active in the hotel business and thought there was a need for a high-end boutique hotel in Philadelphia,” he said.

AFC Realty has teamed up with Hersha Hospitality Management, a private affiliate of Hersha Hotels, to reposition the property back into a hotel. The joint venture has AFC retaining ownership, putting up the bulk of the $1 million renovating the interior from “top to bottom, ” and having Hersha Hospitality take an equity interest in the property as well as manage it. It’s scheduled to reopen this summer.

Steve Clofine of Mallin Panchelli Nadel arranged the joint venture.

As the Inn on Locust, the hotel was a standout among a series of office properties that underwent conversion in the late 1990s. It helped to spark a revival along that area of Locust Street that had become a hangout for drug dealers and prostitutes. For a time, a popular club called Globar was housed at street-level.

The fine print

Ashbridge Square, a 376,489-square-foot power center in Downingtown, secured two big leases. Best Buy leased 46,720 square feet and Christmas Tree Shops took 36,000 square feet. Fameco Real Estate arranged the deals … Innovatis, a German maker of medical devices, leased 2,665 square feet at 301 Lindenwood Road, Malvern. Grubb & Ellis represented the tenant.

Natalie Kostelni, Reporter
Philadelphia Business Journal

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