Rendering Alert: There’s a Courtyard and Water Feature at Mural Arts Lofts

The former Thaddeus Stevens School on Broad | Photo credit: James Jennings

The former Thaddeus Stevens School on Broad | Photo credit: James Jennings

Oh, wow. We’ve just gotten our hands on the most recent rendering of the planned Mural Arts Lofts (aka, the former Thaddeus Stevens school at Broad and Spring Garden), a 56-unit apartment development, which along with the Divine Lorraine and other projects on North Broad, seems to be paving the way for a potential (and hopefully not so distant?) corridor revitalization. Check it out below!

What’s interesting to note about the newly released rendering is that it contains a courtyard driveway and water feature, elements we hadn’t previously heard of, although EB Realty Management executive director Chris Cordaro told us in an email that “a spectacular courtyard was always in our plans.” Developer Eric Blumenfeld added, “We believe that residential communities are well served by elegant courtyards that give residents a sense of a happy place.”

Blumenfeld’s previous developments, like the Marine Club on South Broad or 640 on North Broad, are an example of this, as he notes they too have been “incorporated a lot of natural materials” and water features.

And so, without further ado, a look at the upcoming Mural Arts Lofts….
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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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The Wall Street Journal Profiles Unnamed “205-Unit” Project by Eric Blumenfeld

Marine Club | Image: EB Realty Management

Marine Club | Image: EB Realty Management

Here’s one that might have flown under your radar. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal about commercial mortgages and backed securities making a comeback mentions (and quotes) a familiar name, Eric Blumenfeld, and an interesting undefined project. Check it:

As more companies have been jousting to lend, borrowers have been benefiting. Developer Eric Blumenfeld last month secured a $25 million loan for a 205-unit Philadelphia apartment building from an affiliate of Cantor Fitzgerald LP, which then sold it off in a package of commercial mortgage-backed securities. Mr. Blumenfeld said there was more competition among lenders for the loan than he expected and there “was a little bit of a bidding war” before he ultimately went with Cantor, which he had used before.

So, what is this mysterious “205-unit Philadelphia apartment building” that’s mentioned? It turns out that it’s the Marine Club at the southwest corner of Broad and Washington. Wait, isn’t that South Philly? Yes, it is and EB Realty Management says they’re looking to bring amenity-rich, urban luxury to one of the city’s rapidly developing gateway districts.

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Little Bit of New Orleans Is Coming to North Broad

Beignets on North Broad.

Beignets on North Broad.

James Jennings, the new editor of our sibling blog, Property has the details on Eric Blumenfeld’s newest North Broad project, the Studebaker Building at 667 N Broad Street. Currently, it’s the home of Stephen Starr’s catering operation and when the project is completed, that will still be the case, but there will also be a bit of New Orleans in the building.

Serial Creole restaurateur, John Mims will be opening two establishments in the building. Tremé will be a live music venue with a 75-seat bar area and 50-seat fine-dining room. Mims, who owns Carmine’s Act 2 in Narberth last cooked in Philadelphia at Les Bons Temps on 12th Street. That partnership didn’t work out and he is excited to get back into the city proper.

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Changes on the Way to Stephen Starr’s Commissary Building on North Broad

EBRM's Studebaker Building project. Photo: James Jennings

EBRM’s Studebaker Building project. Photo: James Jennings

Another day, another development on North Broad Street that involves developer Eric Blumenfeld. No, it’s not about Mural Arts Lofts, the Divine Lorraine Hotel project or even The Met. This time EB Realty Management (EBRM) has their collective sights set on the multi-color building at 667 North Broad Street, the home of Stephen Starr’s commissary.

Chris Cordaro, Executive Director with EBRM said plans to redevelop the building are “in our pipeline” and the site has “very developable space.” In a project they’re calling the Studebaker Building–Cordaro tells us it was formerly a showroom back in the day–plans are to keep Stephen Starr’s commissary in place and expand his office and storage space. 20 apartment units will be added to the building and the site will be anchored by three commercial tenants.

How does New Orleans factor into this?

Construction on Eric Blumenfeld’s Mural Arts Lofts Project Will Begin in February

The future site of Mural Arts Lofts, photo: James Jennings

The future site of Mural Arts Lofts, photo: James Jennings

Eric Blumenfeld’s transformation of North Broad Street is about to add another point on the map: the former Thaddeus Stevens School at Broad and Spring Garden Street.

In a tip of the cap to Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program, the development will now be called Mural Arts Lofts and consist of 56 loft-style apartments that seek to reuse the existing elements found in the school. Each unit will have the original chalkboards and built-in cabinets and the hardwood floors will also be restored in the process.

Thanks to a $16.2 million development budget–a figure that includes the purchase of the property–construction on the project will begin as early as February, according to Christopher Cordaro, Executive Director at EB Realty Management (EBRM). Cordaro described the building as having “great bones” that “lend itself to a straightforward build out.”

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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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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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On the Market: Eric Blumenfeld’s Gladwyne Manse

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach Bryn Mawr

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach Bryn Mawr

Eric Blumenfeld, owner of Philadelphia’s most well-known blighted gem, has put his Gladwyne home on the market. Blumenfeld, who long blamed funding issues for not getting his plans for the Divine Lorraine off the ground, has recently been in the news after striking a deal with New Jersey real estate lender Bill Procida. The investment will make the rehabilitation of the building possible (fingers crossed).

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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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