Developer Eric Blumenfeld intends to bring the Divine Lorraine back to its hospitality roots with a planned boutique hotel in part of the 124-year-old North Broad Street property that's mostly being converted into apartments.
Blumenfeld is seeking an operator for a hotel, featuring 24 guest rooms, that would occupy the Divine Lorraine's less-ornate annex building, where the developer had previously planned additional apartment units, he said Wednesday.
"I mean, the sign on the roof says Divine Lorraine Hotel," Blumenfeld said in an interview during a tour of the property and his other area holdings for investors.
The developer plans 101 apartment units in the Divine Lorraine's main building, but has decided to hold off on leasing second-floor units in case there's an opportunity to use them as hotel rooms for extended-stay guests, he said.
Two upper-story units, meanwhile, have already been leased to renters, said Ed Casella, regional property manager for Blumenfeld's EB Realty Management Corp. Move-ins are expected by the end of 2016. Restaurant and boutique-retail tenants are still being sought for the ground floor and basement, Blumenfeld said.
Other details to emerge about Blumenfeld's intentions for the area included plans for a shared-office facility, a Wawa convenience store, and - down the line - a 5,600-seat concert venue.
The tour began at the former Thaddeus Stevens School of Observation at 523 N. Broad St., which Blumenfeld has renovated into a 56-unit apartment building.
A retail structure planned on vacant land beside the building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets will accommodate the Wawa and a Bank of America branch, according to New York-based financier Billy Procida, whose investment fund is helping to bankroll Blumenfeld's projects. A restaurant tenant is being sought to fill remaining space in the planned structure, Procida said.
About a block north, at 667 N. Broad St., Blumenfeld is refurbishing a three-story structure into what he is calling the Studebaker building. Office-space operator Regus is interested in leasing the building's top two floors for a 30,000-square-foot flexible workspace, Procida said. A "hip and groovy" restaurant tenant is being sought for the ground floor of that building, he said.
The tour concluded at the Metropolitan Opera at 858 N. Broad St., a cavernous building with a 110,000-square-foot auditorium that was built in 1908 as an opera house but has fallen into severe disrepair. Blumenfeld, who said he has a partial ownership stake in the building, plans a $35 million renovation of the structure into a venue for concerts and theatrical performances.
The project's backers are working on a deal with a concert promoter to operate the venue, Procida said.
"We see the Metropolitan Opera House as the secret weapon, not only for Broad Street, but for all of Philadelphia," Blumenfeld said. "It kind of shoots this plan to the moon."