Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

Eric Blumenfeld Reviving Refit of Philadelphia’s Divine Lorraine

Philadelphia’s Broad Street is getting a facelift.

The Divine Lorraine hotel

Philadelphia developer Eric Blumenfeld, owner of EB Realty Management Corp., has revealed his plans for the renovation of The Divine Lorraine hotel. He did so in an eleven part video interview with Hadas Kuznitz of CBS 3.

Visitors to the site will see that scaffolding has already been installed around its lower levels and that the building, long since abandoned, has been cleaned of graffiti.

Blumenfed intends to add two restaurants and a large reception area on the ground floor. Unfortunately, there will be no roof access once the work is completed.

Located at the corner of Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue, in North Philadelphia, The Divine Lorraine was completed in 1894 and was originally an apartment building. It was transformed into a hotel in 1900 and has been considered an example of well preserved late nineteenth century architecture. It was one of the city’s first high rise buildings, at ten stories.

The hotel boasts alabaster staircases and two large skylights, one on the roof and another atop the lobby, which can be seen from the interior shaft courtyard.

Named for Father Divine’s Universal Peace Mission Movement, the building has stood empty since that organization sold it, in 1999, after owning it for almost 60 years. It was kept in descent condition until 2006, when it began to crumble and became a symbol of Philadelphia’s urban decay.

Blumenfeld acquired the property in October 2012, for more than $8 million, from a developer who had planned to convert the building into luxury housing. Those developers gutted the interiors of the various floors, to Blumenfeld’s dismay. He told KYW News radio, “That was their thinking, that the right thing to do was to gut this building down to the bare bones.”

Blumenfeld first intended to convert the building into residential apartments, as part of a grand plan to renew the street, which included a new training facility for the 76ers.

But opposition to the project and a protracted court case against a former associate led Blumenfeld to change plans.

A local artist at one point tried to have the property taken away from Blumfeld, and to turn it into a museum.

Finally, Billy Procida, a real estate lender from New Jersey, stepped in to offer Blumenfeld the funding he needed to proceed with the current project.

Work is expected to be restarted in September.

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