A weekly series of foul-mouthed investigations into empty lots, dead-ass proposals and other design phenomena in Philadelphia. Find more stories like this at Philaphilia.blogspot.com.
Somewhere along the Delaware River in Fishtown
This is the most fun kind of Dead-Ass Proposal. Shit that's so silly and outlandish that the motherfucker is dead on arrival. Like the Philadelphia Wax Museum, this piece of shit proposal has little evidence of being serious and/or real. There isn't even an exact location for where it was planned.
In early 2012, a flier started being distributed around Fishtown stating that a brand new super-luxurious casino hotel was going to be built by the generically-named Lifestyles Resort, Hotels, and Casinos, which is supposed to be part of the "O Group of companies", no doubt named after the only person listed on the proposal's still-active website as being on the management team, Orlando Ballate. Apparently no one told him that there's already a company named "O Group" in NYC, a snooty branding agency that has nothing to do with the "O Group of companies". It hard to tell, but I think the "group" consists of this project, O Energy, based in the Dominican Republic, and O Good Works, based in Jersey City. The address listed for Lifestyles Resort, Hotels, and Casinos is a suburban home at the end of a cul-de-sac.
This $150 million, 300-room luxury hotel was to be based on the "retro glamour of 1950s Havana, Cuba" and would feature restaurants, a spa, and a nightclub along with "branded fashion, cafes, music, retail, and gaming". The name? O Havana. At first I thought they were trying to market it as an Irish-Cuban place, like O'Havana. That is not the case-- though that idea is much more interesting. They mean O as in Orlando Ballete and Havana as in Havana, Cuba. Go to O Hell. The flier also states that a Motion Picture Hall of Fame is planned to be built next door independent of this d.o.a. proposal and that the O Havana project has the support of the City of Philadelphia, the "Delaware River Authority" (I guess they mean Delaware River Port Authority) and "the community".
As soon as that flier started being seen in Fishtown, a collective "What the fuck is this?" rang out across the halls of NIMBYdom, though not a single permit was pulled nor did the Planning Commission, Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Fishtown Neighbors Assoication, or the Central Delaware Advocacy Group know a damn thing about it. Plan Philly reported on it right away, also questioning what the hell was going on.
Well, the flier's concrete completion date of November 7th, 2013 will soon be coming to pass so there's pretty much no doubt at this point that this thing will ever get built. The website still asks for investors, claiming that O Havana Philadelphia is just the beginning in a series of O Havana resorts and that it is "slated to be one of the fastest growing, most profitable brands of THIS CENTURY". This century? Get the fuck out of here. Maybe a little bit of humility would have helped? Another funny description from the website called the O Havana Cafe and Rum Bar "an impressive, SEXY, refreshing break from the norm". Sexy? How is a Rum Bar sexy?
The website also claims that three O Havana resorts/hotels are planned for the Bay Islands. The flier had Macau, Seoul, Dubai, Sydney, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, New York, Atlantic City, Biloxi, Barcelona, Rome, Cancun, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Havana listed at the bottom. I guess that was supposed to imply that future locations of O Havana would be built in those cities. However, I don't know how well O Havana would go over in Havana. Maybe it was just a list of cities for no reason, just like how the rest of this proposal seems to be for no reason.
From what I can tell, this "O Group of companies" thought that Philadelphia was in some free country where you can just buy land and build whatever the fuck you want. They didn't realize how this city's regulatory and neighborhood group engine works nor did they seem to care. Its not like they were from some faraway land where Philadelphia is just some legend about cheesesteaks and a cracked bell. This O Group is based in Annandale, Clinton Township, New Jersey, only 50 miles away! Even seven seconds of Google searching would have told them how to get shit built in this town and how this motherfucker would be a dumb idea here-- but it seems that nary an investigative second was spent. Reminds me of the idiots on Reddit's Philadelphia section who ask a bunch of strangers silly questions that could have been easily solved by 4 seconds of internet use.
As a rule, you can count any development that asks the general public for investments as Dead on Arrival. It makes me wonder how many people, if any, actually gave in and invested real American currency in this silly project. Good luck, "O Group of companies". I, for one, hope you can prove me wrong and build this piece of shit. However, I must accept that its more likely that a time machine capable of transporting tourists to 1950s Havana will be constructed before that.
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