Blumenfeld Expected To Move Forward On Divine Lorraine (Updated)

 

Photo: Chandra Lampreich

Developer Eric Blumenfeld appears to be close to acquiring the note on the Divine Lorraine hotel held by Amalgamated Bank, several sources say, and has plans to acquire the property at Sheriff’s sale. The New York City-based bank holds the note on the property because local developer Michael Treacy and investors from Michigan and the Netherlands have defaulted on the loan.

Hidden City took part in a tour of the building in late July with staff members of Blumenfeld’s firm EB Realty Management Corporation, a representative of the historic preservation consultancy Powers & Company, Reading Terminal Market director Paul Steinke, and others who hope to see the long-languishing landmark resurrected.

Blumenfeld could not be reached for comment this week because of a death in his family

Blumenfeld seems to be much closer to moving forward with a a deal than he was in March when he floated a plan to create a combined high school campus behind the Divine Lorraine for Franklin Learning Center, Parkway, Masterman, and Benjamin Franklin High. No word on whether that plan, which would be extremely complicated in terms of financing, logistics, and politics, has moved forward.

Eric Blumenfeld

If the school campus plan isn’t successful, some sort of “envelope” of new development will still be needed around the Willis Hale-designed building, probably in the form of condos or apartments–and a lot of them. The previous developer planned to build 900 units on the adjacent parcels. Receiving federal historic tax credits will be critical to making the numbers work, which is why Blumenfeld is talking with Powers & Company, although he has yet to retain the firm. The building is on the National Register for Historic Places and became the first integrated hotel of quality in the country after Father Divine’s International Peace Mission Movement purchased it in 1948.

Another small chunk of money might come from the State of Pennsylvania’s new historic tax credit program, which could be tapped for as much as $500,000, although a considerably smaller sum is more likely since there is only $3 million in the statewide program’s budget. With Treacy and company owing approximately $700,000 in back taxes, some form of tax relief or incentives from the City of Philadelphia may also be part of the equation.

This would be the second time Blumenfeld has owned the Divine Lorraine if a deal goes through. Blumenfeld bought the property from Tony Goldman in 2003 for $5.3 million, and sold it, along with parcels of adjacent land, to Treacy and his investors in 2006 for $10.1 million.

Even as the Divine Lorraine has been stuck in development limbo, the neighborhood around the building has continued to improve, thanks in part to Blumenfeld himself, who redeveloped the former Botany 500 clothing factory at 640 N. Broad Street in 2007 and the Biberman Building at 15th and Mt. Vernon in 2011 into high-end loft apartments. New condo development has moved steadily east down Fairmount Avenue, culminating with a 30-unit development replacing a seafood warehouse and the Fairmount 500 bar on the southeast corner of 15th and Fairmount. The City closed its largest homeless shelter early this year, which was located across the street from the Divine Lorraine, and Project Home is planning to build 55 units of affordable housing on the triangular lot at the intersection of 15th, Fairmount and Ridge.

For our photo essay on the building before it was stripped of interior architectural detail, click HERE.

Divine Lorraine July 27, 2012 | Photo: Thaddeus Squire

Divine Lorraine, July 27, 2012 | Photo: Thaddeus Squire

Divine Lorraine July 27, 2012 | Photo: Thaddeus Squire

Divine Lorraine July 27, 2012 | Photo: Thaddeus Squire

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



5 Comments


  1. It has been so tragic to follow news over the years of the gutting of the Divine Lorraine, of its being exposed to danger, and developers purchasing but then seemingly ignoring it. I hope the Divine Lorraine does reopen in a beneficial way to the City.

  2. Please do not refer to Michael Treacy as a “developer”.

    “Irresponsible dope” is fine, “developer” not so much.

  3. I don’t think you meant our group. Peace not Peach?

    V. Dollah
    President, International Peach Mission
    Atlanta, GA

  4. Eric Blumenfeld call me.
    There’s a better way…and more money to be made.

Trackbacks

  1. Divine Lorraine could become Blumenfeld’s (again)
  2. Philadelphia 2035 - Page 55 - City-Data Forum

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
The Best Seats In The City, Ban Be Damned

The Best Seats In The City, Ban Be Damned

January 16, 2017  |  Buzz

Last week Friends of Rittenhouse Square and the Department of Parks and Recreation announced a ban from sitting on the interior walls of Rittenhouse Square, the city's prized public living room. Two days later Mayor Jim Kenney reversed the rule, protecting a decades-old tradition. We take a look at life along the balustrades in these old photos > more

Capturing The Ghosts Of Demolition

Capturing The Ghosts Of Demolition

January 13, 2017  |  Last Light

The demolition composites of photographer Andrew Evans beguile the eye with ghostly images of a city passing through time. Evans presents his newest additions to the series and explains his process with this photo essay > more

Pencoyd Bridge Reopens In Manayunk, As Redevelopment Of Foundry Site Begins

Pencoyd Bridge Reopens In Manayunk, As Redevelopment Of Foundry Site Begins

January 11, 2017  |  Vantage

The deserted industrial site of Pencoyd Iron Works is next on a growing list of riverside redevelopment along the Schuylkill. Contributor Mick Ricereto takes us deep inside the history of the family-owned foundry and farmland that dates back to the city's founding > more

Urban Fantasy: The Carousel Maker Of Broad & Erie

Urban Fantasy: The Carousel Maker Of Broad & Erie

January 10, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

Traditional carousel design may have roots in Europe, but "Philadelphia Style" took the amusement ride to a whole new level. The Shadow takes a stroll down Germantown Avenue where the G.A. Dentzel Carousel Company became the gold standard in animal kingdom merry-go-rounds > more

Lost Buildings Of 2016

Lost Buildings Of 2016

December 30, 2016  |  Vantage

That cheery, time-honored tradition: the year-end list. Here on the Daily, that means a roundup of the year's demolitions in our World Heritage City. Brad Maule finds 2016's list warrants more than just a top ten > more

Unlisted Philadelphia: John Decker & Son

Unlisted Philadelphia: John Decker & Son

December 28, 2016  |  Vantage

Ben Leech spotlights unique and significant buildings not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places with his architectural illustration series, Unlisted Philadelphia. With this installment, a kingly cornice in Brewerytown > more