What's the reason for those propane tanks?

Illustration by Bo Brown


Dear Benny,

What’s the deal with those huge propane tanks outside of Urban Outfitters and Cosi? I assume they’re connected with the renovation of Inn at Penn. When will that be finished, by the way, and why did such a new building need renovating anyway?
— Explosively Curious

Dear Flummoxed Over Fuel,

The large silver propane tanks standing on the 36th Street sidewalk are there to provide temporary heating for the portion of Inn at Penn currently under construction.

According to Darrin Reazor, director of design and construction management in the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services, the tanks will be removed once the warm weather arrives. And, in case you were worried about the hazards of having massive amounts of highly explosive fuel in our midst, Penn’s Fire and Emergency Services assures us there is a whole battery of protective measures in place, including a trained 24-hour fire watch. As for the renovation project, it began last November and is expected to be finished by early fall.

The reason for the repairs? According to Reazor, areas of water damage and mold had been found in the building due to leaks around the windows and the HVAC system. Along with replacing windows and upgrading the building’s heating and ventilation systems, the renovation will also include updating of many of the guest rooms with new wallpaper and other amenities. Of the Inn’s 238 guest rooms, 140 will be unavailable until next month. At that point the remaining 95 rooms will go offline until the end of August.

The cost for the construction work is approximately $9 million.


Originally published on March 16, 2006