The wait has ended (at least it appears that way) for the revival of North Broad’s iconic high-rise, the Divine Lorraine, to get under way. The Divine Lorraine Hotel, originally the Lorraine Apartments, had a long run as it was built between 1892 and 1894 and didn’t close its doors until 1999. To many, this building symbolized wealth and luxury, however to me, and to my generation, it’s been that building covered in graffiti and filled with squatters that looks like it was probably something pretty cool at one point.
Developer, Eric Blumenfeld, now has all of the money he needs as approval for his loan and grant money appears to have been received. I believe Blumenfeld has obtained something like $44 million in funding, with the bulk of that coming from New Jersey real estate lender, Billy Procida. In this PLANPHILLY article, Blumenfeld is quoted saying, “The city has been incredibly helpful, as has the state.” Blumenfeld’s supposed plan is to create 109 apartments with retail space occupying the first two floors of the building.
Personally, I’m excited about this project. I don’t know how you couldn’t be. I know there are a lot of variables that go into it, and people will always disagree on the allocation of government money (Blumenfeld received grants), but revitalizing a historic building in an area that sorely needs it (North Broad) is a win in my book as it allows the restoration of a landmark, it will generate tax revenue, and it will only spark more development in the neighborhood.
Approval to build 500 apartments and an 80,000 square foot supermarket on the lot behind the Divine Lorraine was also granted this week. Without the Divine Lorraine project, I’m not sure that this would be in the works, so you can see the effect it’s already made. The Divine Lorraine is a project that I will definitely continue to follow as the transformation should be pretty incredible (I will also be following because I’m hoping it gets done, haha). This is definitely a major step in the evolution of North Broad. I think it’s only a matter of time before North Broad from City Hall to Temple’s campus has been completely rejuvenated.