Dare we do it? Dare we allow ourselves to feel even the briefest of glimmers of hope? Philadelphia’s most well-known ruin has been purchased twice by the same developer whose plans for its conversion into a luxury apartment complex with ground floor commercial space have come to naught for the last two years.
What (or who) could possibly make things any different now?
The answer to that might be Bill Procida. According to the Inquirer's Jennifer Lin, the New Jersey real estate lender (who is head of Procida Funding & Advisors) has agreed to lend developer Eric Blumenfeld of the EB Realty Management Corporation $31.5 million. The deal's closure could happen in 45-60 days.
For those unfamiliar with the Divine Lorraine's story, Blumenfeld has often cited funding issues as the main reason for not starting work on the 10-story blighted property. Procida's sum, however, could now change that.
Yet, even with this help, money issues could be better. Blumenfeld has his fingers crossed for a $5 million state grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). From the Inquirer:
"We've figured out a way to make the project happen and don't need the city to do anything special," Blumenfeld said. "But if we're able to get a RACP grant, it makes the project that much better and would allow us to increase the commercial space."
Meanwhile, how Procida became involved-- or even aware of the Lorraine, for that matter- is a whole other thing. Lin writes he was in the area to see a different real estate venture when suddenly...
Driving south on Broad Street, on his way back to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and home via the New Jersey Turnpike, he spied the Divine Lorraine, the beacon of blight on North Broad Street.
Procida pulled over.
He looked at the vacant, abused building and wanted it.
About a week later Procida got an out-of-the-blue call from an investment adviser asking him if he'd care to check out a property in Philly called the Divine Lorraine. Lin reports, "Procida said it was meant to be."
• New hope - and funding - for Divine Lorraine [Inquirer]
In other news...
• Construction to begin on $10M apartment project in Brewerytown [Philadelphia Business Journal]
• Future on hold for 30th Street Station [Philly.com]