Simply Divine Lorraine Hotel – Photos of the Groundbreaking, Pop-up and the Lobby – Philly is twice as nice, for half the price says William Procida

Yesterday I attended the groundbreaking of the long anticipated revival of the grande dame of North Broad Street, The Divine Lorraine Hotel (699 N. Broad St.). Over the years there have been many stops and go projects slated with the building that has fascinated so many in Philadelphia. It’s one of the finest example of  a Victorian style building in Philly, next to the Bellevue Hyatt, but what sets this apart is it stands tall and alone on North Broad, which really magnifies it’s greatness.

The beginning of something wonderful happened yesterday as the developers, dignitaries and fans of the Divine Lorraine gathered to break ground on the $44 million redevelopment project with plans to develop nearly 120 apartments, and 20,000 sq feet of retail space.


Funding for the project came from Procida Funding Advisors, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the state, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and the City Philadelphia.

The event was MC’d by Alan Greenberger the Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, who for all his years in city office has had a photo of the Divine Lorraine hanging in his office. No one is happier than he is to see this building come back to life. 
Many notables were in the crowd like Sam Sherman, head of the historic committee, dead center in this photo. BTW he spearheaded the new gateway at East Passyunk last week, check out the photos HERE
Mayor Nutter told stories of being in the neighborhood as a kid and seeing the grand Divine Lorraine, the first integration hotel in Philadelphia.

 Darrell Clarke,  President of City Council and represents the 5th Council District which includes North Central Philadelphia, Strawberry Mansion, was glad he wouldn’t have to call Greenberger on the phone every week and ask him “what are you doing about the Divine Lorraine? There’s new graffiti on the building, and it’s not even spelled right.”

William Procida, President, Procida Funding and Advisors told an amusing story of how he was in town (for a Dead concert)  (Which Reminds me of this song)  and drove by the Divine Lorraine. He too was drawn in by it’s beauty and sought out to bring it to life again. In his research he found that developer Eric Blumenfeld, EB Realty Management, who was in the midst of trying to get a redevelopement project off the ground for the building.  At the end of his chat Procida claimed, NYC better watch out,” Philly is twice as nice, for half the price.”

Alan Greenberger, Darrell Clarke, Eric Blumenfeld, Mayor Nutter, William Procida and Nydia Rotson, Governor Tom Wolf’s office.

Mayor Nutter gets a tour of the lobby of the Lorraine Divine, where in the last 16 years has become a mecca for street artists, photographers and urban explorers. 

 Through out the lobby there were photos of the bygone era of the hotel

I’ve said it before, no other mayor and city planner in the history of Philadelphia has done more for developing Philadelphia than Mayor Nutter and Alan Greenberger. He’s list of accomplishments in this area has far surpassed that of City Planner Ed Bacon’s era.

The Divine Lorraine Pop Up Store in the lobby.  According to the NY Times “a local businessman, Najeeb Sheikh, produced a line of merchandise
including towels, bathrobes and shampoo bottles imprinted with Divine
Lorraine logos, and sold them all in a one-day sale at a store in
downtown Philadelphia.” Blumenfeld heard about the sale and loved the idea. Najeeb Sheikh produced a second line including the coffee cups you see here, and shirts in the background, to sell inside the lobby.

Nearly 1000 people waited in line yesterday to see the long closed to to the public lobby and to buy merchandise from the pop-up store. The reason for the line, L&I would only let 30 people in at a time.

Hello any ghosts?
A friend of Father Devine tells a reporter about 

Father Jealous Divine (here with his wife Mother Devine), an African-American spiritual leader who bought the property in 1948 and converted it to a the integrated hotel, as Greenberger and his right hand man, Luke Butler look on.

I took this last week