North Broad Street in April 2015| Photos: James Jennings
Brace yourselves, folks. News regarding the Divine Lorraine is going to come fast and furious until the “groundbreaking” event takes place, hopefully sometime in August. Think of it as Property’s version of “Pope Watch.”
On Tuesday, developer Eric Blumenfeld went before the Architectural Committee of the Historical Commission to present the plans for the historic renovation that’s about to take place at the Grand Old Dame of North Broad Street. PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the committee voted to approve the overall plans for the project, but had a few suggestions for the man at the center of North Broad’s revival.
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Photo: Jeff Fusco
The moment has finally arrived, Eric Blumenfeld (and EB Realty Management) has all of the funds needed to make the Divine Lorraine project a reality. PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority approved a $2.5 million loan and a separate $1 million grant to push the project’s financing over the hump:
That money, combined with a $3.5 million state grant awarded last week, federal historic tax credits worth the same amount, and a $30 million investment from New Jersey real estate lender Billy Procida, will allow Blumenfeld to start work on the redevelopment next month.
You may recall that a tour of the property in April revealed some interesting details about the project, including the news that it would be comprised of 109 apartments and approximately 20,000-square-feet of retail space. Procida, who described himself as a “very active and involved lender,” told Property earlier this week that the Divine Lorraine should close in the next 30 days. “It’s probably the most difficult closing of my life,” said Procida, who also mentioned that it’s “probably the prettiest building we’ve ever done.”
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North Broad Street | Photos: James Jennings
Oh man, does it look like the winds of change are finally starting to take shape on North Broad Street. Eric Blumenfeld, backed by mega-investor Billy Procida, recently gave a tour for those involved with each project to show them how his plan will completely change the corridor. The tour included Mural Lofts at the former Thaddeus Stevens School at Broad and Spring Garden Street and even a brief dip into the Divine Lorraine, a project that needs no introduction. The future seems brighter than ever, and it seems to start with high end apartments.
Blumenfeld’s first muse was to transform the Mulford Building into the 265-unit Lofts at 640 at Broad and Wallace. Head south a few blocks to Spring Garden Street and you’ll find Bart Blatstein’s relatively new project at the former State Office Building, which he revamped into 204 apartment units. In addition to the new digs, the ‘spur’ at the Rail Park on Noble Street is inching forward and North Broad Street will soon see the first of 46 “light masts” rise from the median. Blumenfeld plans 165 new apartment units with the projects at Mural Lofts (56) and the Divine Lorraine (109). So let’s get right to it. Read more »
It seems like not a week goes by without some news pertaining to Eric Blumenfeld’s march to redevelop North Broad Street. However this time, it’s not about beignets, the Divine Lorraine or even a new apartment building with a fancy water feature. According to the Daily News, a lawsuit has been filed against the developer by Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival Center over control of The Met, a hulking and formerly spectacular opera house Broad and Poplar Streets.
The suit claims that “Blumenfeld misled the Church into relinquishing title to and giving him [Blumenfeld] a controlling interest in the Met.”
The church purchased the property in 1997 for $250,000–saving it from the wrecking ball. It later partnered with Blumenfeld, giving him controlling interest in the property, to help restore the historic building. Only it claims the opposite occurred and the developer wasn’t up front about financial and legal issues, gutted the church and then didn’t restore the property. It seeks to dissolve the “partnership between Blumenfeld and the church, return of the title to the church and damages in excess of $50,000,” according to the Daily News.
Back in July, EB Realty Management said they were kicking around the idea of having a large catering facility (upwards of 20,000 square-feet) in the basement of the building with a separate space for Rev. Hatcher’s Holy Ghost Revival Center. EB Realty Management could not be reached for comment.
• Church sues developer over Metropolitan Opera House on N. Broad St. [Daily News] Read more »
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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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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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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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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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?
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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