PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Major construction is now underway for a new hotel opening next year on Independence Mall.

It’ll be called the Hotel Monaco, and it’s being built at 5th and Chestnut Streets, overlooking the Liberty Bell, in the shell of the former Lafayette Building (see related story).

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Hotel director of operations Nick Gregory (below right) says that for the past year, owner Kimpton Hotels has been doing demolition there.

(Nick Gregory. Credit: Hadas Kuznits)

“When we first walked into this building a year ago — you walk in here and this was Benny’s Place, an old diner that apparently was pretty famous — and you walk in here and saw all of the walls, you would have no idea that it would even look like this.  But now, you can start to see the possibilities,” he told KYW Newsradio today.

He says it’s been exciting transforming this former office building from 1906.

“You’re looking at an over-100-year-old structure that was funded by Stephen Girard,” he notes.

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And Gregory says the Hotel Monaco is expected to open in September 2012.

“We’re going to have 268 rooms, and it’s an 11-story structure.  We’ll have a 125-seat restaurant, and one of the really unique features here is a rooftop lounge that will have room for over 300 people,” he says.

Hear Hadas Kuznits’ full interview with Nick Gregory in this CBS Philly “Philly Scene” podcast…

Click to download full podcast

Reported by Hadas Kuznits, KYW Newsradio 1060

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