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PHILADELPHIA-The locally based Arden Group has formed a partnership with Eric Ripert, chef of New York City’s Le Bernardin, to create a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia at 10 Broad St., also known as the Avenue of the Arts. It will open in November 2008 at the same time first move-ins will begin at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, now under construction on an adjacent parcel.

The restaurant is not yet named, but will serve American cuisine utilizing organic products from local farmers at “an approachable price point,” according to Craig Spencer, CEO and president of Arden. He tells GlobeSt.com, “it will occupy three-quarters of the entire rotunda hotel lobby,” which is the centerpiece of the historic former Girard Bank Building, which Arden and its partners in the 48-story condo tower previously converted into the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Spencer declined to discuss details of the financial arrangement with Ripert, but says, “It’s a licensed, leased agreement that includes profit-sharing with him. More deals are being done this way, especially at hotels, because, unlike a freestanding restaurant in an office building, a hotel is a living, breathing thing. I don’t want to be his landlord; I want to be his partner.”

Spencer also declined to put a price tag on the renovation of the rotunda to make way for the restaurant, except to say, “we will spend millions. It will be a very hip, very chic place to eat and hang out –the happening spot in Center City.”

The selection of Ripert followed a long process that Spencer says began with a list of the best restaurateurs that would be consistent with the Ritz brand. “The stars aligned over Eric Ripert’s head,” he says, noting that Ripert has already begun restaurants at Ritz properties in Washington DC and the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. “He knows the hoops you go through in doing restaurants with hotels.”

As for the condos, Spencer says, “we’re close to 50% sold now, and we’re only five floors up. The ground work on these five floors took a lot of time, but once we hit six at the end of this month, we’ll go to the typical floor plates and be complete by the end of this year. Occupancy will begin in November 2008.”

The construction cost has risen to $300 million, up from an estimated $275 million at groundbreaking in May 2006. It is planned to contain 280 units, but Spencer expects some to be combined. According to Spencer, it is the most expensive and tallest residential tower in Center City. Unit prices initially began at $500 per sf for lower-floor studios and reach to above $1,200 per sf for a penthouse.

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