The Liberty Title and Trust Building, at Broad and Arch Streets, was built in 1925 for its namesake company and is the only building on its block to survive the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center a few years ago. It stands 21 stories tall and had been vacant for nearly 20 years after the Philadelphia Water Department vacated it. Plans to renovate it into a hotel, connected to the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, had been talked about for years. The current renovation is being done by Realen Properties, which purchased the property last year, and designed by a team consisting of architectural firms Stonehill Taylor, Powers and Company, and Blackney Hayes.
The Center City Aloft Hotel has 179 guest rooms and two meeting rooms. The meeting rooms have TVs and AV equipment. One is on the lobby level and one is on the second floor. The lobby has the amenities that are of interest to residents of the nearby neighborhoods. Known as the Re:mix lounge, it offers games, large chairs for relaxing, a large TV, and a pool table. The most popular feature will likely be the WXYZ Bar, which also has a furnished patio overlooking Broad Street and the landmark Academy of Fine Arts Museum. The decor includes mid-century modern furniture, a tall bookcase, and a modern crystal-shaped light over the mezzanine. The lobby has many of the building’s original features, including the original elevator for the now-unused underground vault, bannisters to direct bank customers, a company trademark medallion in the marble floor, and the large vaulted windows, which give great views of Broad Street and City Hall. The first floor has two retail spaces, which could be rented for more community-supported retail, likely another restaurant and/or cafe.
The Aloft Hotel will provide accommodations for travelers and conventioneers, but also amenities for the neighborhood. The surrounding neighborhood is seeing other developments, including renovations of two buildings across Broad Street into apartments, the renovation of Love Park, and a new office tower at 13th and Market Streets. The Aloft Hotel takes a long vacant building, perhaps the last large vacant office building in Center City, and turns it into a neighborhood asset.
By, Gabriel Gottlieb