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.
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).
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.
North Broad developer Eric Blumenfeld, who owns the Divine Lorraine and has done absolutely nothing with it, also owns the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, another historic behemoth on North Broad. Built in 1908, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and until Blumenfeld’s purchase earlier this year, was home to a church congregation.
Blumenfeld has been unable to secure funding for his plans for the Divine Lorraine, but something definitely seems to be going on at the Met. Hidden City reports that L&I issued a violation a few weeks ago “for performing interior demolition with no permit info posted.” That seems to indicate some kind of activity, but Blumenfeld isn’t talking.
“Get out of town,” said Cole Porter. “Don’t fence me in,” he said, also. The guy had serious wanderlust, and when it’s nice out, so do we. This weekend Property photographer Laura Kicey went to the former Scranton Lace Factory for another Abandoned America photo workshop. The photographs she got are absolutely gorgeous, but she also learned a bit about what’s happening to the building–which is more than to the SS United States, the subject of her last extensive photo gallery of this sort.
And, to make matters worse, Blumenfeld’s former business partner Ron Caplan has threatened to collect on a defaulted loan to the tune of $37 million, though Blumenfeld’s lawyer challenges Caplan’s authority to do so. Still, the legal battle between the two continues on other fronts, a sad turn of events for two men who were once so close.
Remember the Divine Lorraine? That big, beautiful, abandoned building on North Broad Street that Mayor Nutter said was a cornerstone of Philadelphia’s revival and that developer Eric Blumenfeld has such big dreams for? It was featured yesterday on the national website Web Urbanist, and called, “one of Philadelphia’s most intriguing buildings,” “a Victorian beauty” and “an enticing site for urban exploration.”
Of course, it’s not supposed to be “visited” by urban explorers anymore, but given that its conversion remains stalled, it may only be a matter of time before people find their way inside again. The issue seems to be funding. Blumenfeld has applied for a $7.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program matching fund from the state, but didn’t get it in the first round. We put a call in to see if he wants to talk about the latest. Read more »