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

Nathaniel Popkin is co-founder of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (with Peter Woodall and Joseph E.B. Elliott) and two novels, Everything is Borrowed and Lion and Leopard. He is co-editor of Who Will Speak for America, an anthology forthcoming in June 2018, and the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



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.

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
A Reconstructionist Synagogue Weaves Itself Into Manayunk’s Industrial Fabric

A Reconstructionist Synagogue Weaves Itself Into Manayunk’s Industrial Fabric

August 22, 2019  |  Vantage

The congregation of Mishkan Shalom promotes sanctuary and social reform inside a 137-year-old textile mill on Freeland Avenue. Scotty Meiser has the story > more

African-American Abolitionist & Son Of Former Vice President Aaron Burr Receives Formal Recognition

African-American Abolitionist & Son Of Former Vice President Aaron Burr Receives Formal Recognition

August 19, 2019  |  News

The remains of John Pierre Burr, a black Philadelphia abolitionist and natural son of former Vice President Aaron Burr, has resided in an unmarked grave for more than a century. He will receive formal recognition and an official headstone on Saturday, August 24. Kessler Thibert has the details > more

Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

August 15, 2019  |  News

Deferred maintenance and a construction error endangers Edward Corner warehouse, one of the waterfront's last prominent reminders of Philadelphia's shipping history. Starr Herr Cardillo has the details > more

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

August 13, 2019  |  Vantage

Ed Duffy give us a panoramic view of railroad history in Northeast Philadelphia with this longform essay > more

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

August 9, 2019  |  News

"Hidden Lives Illuminated," an animated film project created by inmates of SCI Chester, debuts at Eastern State Penitentiary on August 15. Kimberly Haas went inside the state prison to speak with the incarcerated artists > more

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

August 7, 2019  |  Vantage

A Germantown couple bet big on adaptive reuse when they converted an old garage into a full-service recording studio in 2014. Today, they are sought out by musicians from around the globe. Stacia Friedman has the story > more