The Divine Lorraine Will Be Reborn, Just Not As a Hotel

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Photo: Jeff Fusco

 

Remember those plans to turn the Divine Lorraine into a boutique hotel? Scrap ‘em. “We want to see this project get done now,” said Chris Cordaro of EB Realty Management. “It’s a better project if it gets done today rather than five or 10 years down the road,” he added, who said the hotel is feasible at the location but it’s too long of a development process. So, what’s in store for one of Philadelphia’s most intriguing buildings? Well, let’s just say it goes way beyond fancy drone videos.

Plans now include 126 apartments and two levels of retail, including a lower-level “Garden Veranda” that will expose the southern side of the building and activate it as a retail corridor along Ridge Avenue. The 20,000 square-foot main level will incorporate both retail and the lobby.

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Five Developments We’re Tracking in 2015

Photo credit: Ethan Schwartz via Flickr.

Photo credit: Ethan Schwartz via Flickr.

Here on Property we’ve been covering an assorted number of new projects poised to transform Philadelphia’s cityscape. As the new year approaches, that number will only continue to grow, and you can be sure we’ll be following all of them.

However, of those that have been announced for 2015, there have been some which have struck us as being potential game-changers. Below you will find five areas in Philadelphia development that we will keep a special eye on in the coming year.

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Morning Headlines: The Divine Lorraine Now Has A Website (And More Photos!)

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

In anticipation of the Divine Lorraine renovation, EB Realty Management Corp. unveiled a website for the historic North Broad structure a few days ago.

For some reason this makes the mixed-use project feel more official, not least for the reason that it includes a “waiting list” sign up form for those of us interested in getting up-to-the-minute updates on its progress. Other goodies: de facto list of those involved, street and building history, neighborhood impact summary, and historic and current photographs of the property.

• Digital Development: New Divine Lorraine Website Plus Pics [Curbed Philly]

In other news…

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Law Firm: Divine Lorraine Developer Eric Blumenfeld Owes Us Nearly $750K

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A law firm alleges that Eric Blumenfeld owes $120,000 for services rendered in relation to his development of the Divine Lorraine, pictured above in a rendering commissioned by his company.

Update: 8/15/14 3:35PM: Blumenfeld called us yesterday evening to say, “That matter has been resolved.” Today a firm spokesperson told us, “Stradley Ronon Chairman Bill Sasso and Eric Blumenfeld have reached a verbal settlement on the matter that will be committed to writing in the very near future.”

The law firm of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP has filed a suit (embedded below) against Eric Blumenfeld’s EB Realty Management Corp. The complaint alleges that Blumenfeld hired the firm in March 2012 to advise him in various real estate matters, including the Abbotts Square condo complex; the Stutz Building, where Stephen Starr’s catering empire resides; and the following development projects:

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The Beury Building Is Up for Sheriff’s Sale

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Photo by Laura Kicey.

The poor Beury Building has not been rescued in Divine Lorraine fashion. In fact, the latest listings show that the foreclosed building will go up for Sheriff’s Sale on August 5. Mind you, it’s had liens on it since 2011 and could have gone to Sheriff’s Sale well before now, but that’s Philadelphia for you.

The building is owned by North Philly Works Inc., which is registered to New York-based entrepreneur Imar Hutchins–owner of Florida Avenue Grill in Washington, D.C. and no stranger to foreclosures himself. It’s also part of Shift Capital‘s portfolio; Hutchins is a Shift Capital principal, though its main number yields a voice mail for Shift founder Brian Murray, who’s out of town until July 29th. I left a message for a disembodied voice who may or may not be the robot for Imar Hutchins, and sent an email as well. Someone will get back to us to fill us in, I’m sure. Meanwhile, here is a spectacular gallery of the building taken by Laura Kicey.

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Divine Lorraine Will Have a Restaurant and Speakeasy

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

It really seems like the Divine Lorraine will get redeveloped. Developer Eric Blumenfeld has purchased the building for a second time and he has the funding in place to start renovations. KYW’s Hadas Kuznits accompanied Blumenfeld on a tour of the Grand Old Lady of North Broad this week. During the tour, Blumenfeld mentioned that he is aiming to bring in a high-end restaurant as well as a subterranean speakeasy to the Divine Lorraine. 

Guess who we spotted in front »

Video: The Latest Look Inside the Divine Lorraine

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Oh, ye of little faith. That’s probably what developer Eric Blumenfeld wants to tell every naysayer who laughed when he bought the Divine Lorraine for the second time with dreams of turning it into a school or apartment complex. Now Blumenfeld has the funding to start renovations in about two months, according to his interview with KYW NewsRadio’s Hadas Kuznits, which draws out more of the story. Kuznits has also posted a number of YouTube videos in which she and Blumenfeld tour the site as it stands today. Last chance, most likely, to see it in its decrepit form.

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Divine Lorraine Reborn: Is This Really Happening?

The new rendering of the completed Divine Lorraine renovation, courtesy of EB Realty Management

The new rendering of the completed Divine Lorraine renovation, via EB Realty Management’s Twitter feed

Familiar with this kind of thing? “Smack in the middle of downtown Philadelphia’s busy Broad Street sits the towering Divine Lorraine. When night falls and the rest of the city’s skyscrapers are illuminated, the former hotel and religious compound remains forebodingly dark and lifeless. Like Philadelphia wasn’t scary enough.” (That’s from the Daily Dot in October.) But no longer! Sometime soon, we may finally be rid of people judging Philadelphia on the abysmal condition of the Divine Lorraine. Scaffolding is up around the lower levels of the building, most graffiti has been washed off the exterior, and now we have a new rendering from developer Eric Blumenfeld of the future Divine Lorraine at night: occupied, open to the street, with the big sign relit in red neon and lighting on the facade. Scary no more.

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Morning Headlines: The Divine Lorraine Project Might Just Happen– And Soon

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

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?

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