Divine Lorraine Secures Construction Loan; How About a Papal Blessing?

Billy Procida talks about closing on the $35 million construction loan, a possible blessing by Pope Francis and even the new light poles on North Broad Street.

Photo: James Jennings

Photo: James Jennings

News came down this week that Eric Blumenfeld had secured a $35 million construction loan to all but officially mark the redevelopment process at the historic Divine Lorraine.

“We finally got it done,” said Billy Procida, founder of Procida Funding & Advisors in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The company is providing the private funding for the Divine Lorraine and the other Blumenfeld projects on North Broad Street. Washington Square Realty Capital helped arrange the loan, which Procida described it as the longest and most complicated closing of his life.

But that’s all behind them now, and construction has actually started inside the famed building. “Domus is on site and they have started construction,” Christopher Cordaro, vice president at EB Realty Management, Blumenfeld’s development company, said in an email. “There is nothing holding us back now!”

It was a statement that Procida echoed: “It’s up and going, and ain’t nothing stopping it.”

It’s been a long, winding process to reach this point–hell, this is Blumenfeld’s second go-around with the Divine Lorraine–and Procida cited a few key players who helped the project get over the hump, including deputy mayor of commerce and development Alan Greenberger, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation’s president John Grady and Brian Abernathy, the executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. “Those three individuals were critical,” Procida said.

Interestingly enough, Procida credited the new North Broad Streetscape program, which will see 41 light masts rise 55-feet above the street from the Hamilton Street to Glenwood Avenue, as being game changer for the project. “That light project makes everything. I don’t think anybody in Philadelphia knows how big that’s going to be,” he said. “It’s kind of funny. Nobody has ever seen anything like this. We don’t have anything like that in New York … It’s going to be freaking wild!”

Even with the construction money in tow and crews on site, the developers might just be looking for a higher power to see this long-planned project come to fruition. How about a visit from Pope Francis? “Tell the pope he should stop by,” said Procida, “even if it’s a drive-by blessing.”