The DIVINE LORRAINE Is Pre-leasing Already

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a 8 months since the groundbreaking of the long anticipated revival of the grande dame of North Broad Street, The Divine Lorraine Hotel (699 N. Broad St.) back in September, to today when it was announced that the Divine Lorraine apartments would begin pre-leasing the apartments.

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The listing on Craigslist states: Large, open floor plans allow you to maximize your living area while living just steps away from world-class dining and retail. Apartment finishes combine sleek industrial touches, while maintaining the vintage charm of the Divine Lorraine. The modern kitchens feature top of the line appliances and beautiful light granite counter tops.

1 Bedrooms Starting @ $1325
2 Bedrooms Starting @ $2540 **SECOND MONTH IS FREE ON ALL 2 BEDROOMS!

A coffee shop and bi-level restaurant will fill the commercial space.

Each apartment will be equipt with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and range in a number of bedrooms. The building will even have a 24-hour doorman to ensure the safety of the residences.

The ballroom is so large they are making it into two separate floors holding apartments on each floor. The Annex in the back of the building will be renovated into something, but it is still a surprise.

Purrrfect: Cats are allowed.

Unit Amenities:
-Stainless Steel GE Appliances including Dishwasher and Microwave
-LG Washer and Dryer in ALL units
-Granite Counter Tops
-Modern Plank Flooring
-Vintage, industrial light fixtures
-Plenty of Closet Space
-Subway tiled showers
-Ceramic tiled bathroom floors
-Premium shaker birch wood cabinets
-Commercial/Fusion style kitchen faucets
-Contemporary bathroom fixtures
4-29-2016 5-28-42 PMAn interesting footnote to add is that residents at the Divine Lorraine are allowed to use the amenities at Lofts 640, only block away – featuring a rooftop pool, gym and sundeck.

See the complete listing HERE

Check out a great photo essay of The Divine Lorraine before the renovation got underway, by Streets Department –


Holy Cow Game Changer: Red Owl Tavern, Hotel Monaco Philadelphia and The Stratus Lounge

Lately on twitter I’ve been using Holy Cow to really get across notable moments, and extraordinary things of interest. The Red Owl Tavern, Stratus Lounge and Hotel Monaco Philadelphia fits that definition; separately or together it’s a big Holy Cow game changer for Philadelphia.

It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago when I took this photo at the “groundbreaking” of the 
Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. (This is looking towards what is now the Red
Owl Tavern restaurant with it’s grand windows over looking Independence
Hall and the Liberty Bell) Jack Ferguson, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB), Nick Gregory, General Manager Hotel Monaco Philadelphia – Director of Operations at Kimpton Hotels (standing),  Kimpton’s President and COO, Niki Leondakis, The honorable Mayor Nutter and Meryl Levitz, CEO Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) 

Last night I attended one of the Friends and Family nights for Philly’s
latest and one of the most anticipated new restaurants, Red Owl Tavern, part of the
new Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco opening next week at 5th and Chestnut.  I can’t remember the last time a restaurant in a hotel was so highly anticipated with the exception of Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts at the Ritz Hotel with Chef Jen Carroll. (BTW Top Chef’s new reality show  “Life After Top Chef” debuts tonight on Bravo at 10PM. I’ll be in two episodes, the first one airs on October 17.)

What’s interesting about the Kimpton brand is the branding of their restaurants. They are stand alone, meaning they have an entrance that fronts the street welcoming guests through the front door without having to go through the lobby. Their other property in the City, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia also has a restaurant with a door on the street, Square 1682 17th and Sansom Streets. Another restaurant in the City that does very well, and with this concept is a.kitchen, which is part of the long term stay hotel AKA Rittenhouse.

Guillermo Tellez Cruz, executive chef Red Owl Tavern, and Stratus Lounge (he will continue to oversee Square 1682 too) last night prepping orders for the packed house.

 Michael DeGano, Director of Restaurant Operations at Kimpton Hotels., Chef Guillermo Tellez Cruz and Erik Travers, the Restaurant Operations Director of the Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco

Jack Reilly, Legend Properties, Natalie Pineda, General Manager of Red Owl Tavern and Diane Farina, Starr Restaurants

Jimmy Contreras, VlahosPR Sandy Foxx and Matt Vlahos, VlahosPR who does the PR for Red Owl Tavern and Stratus Lounge

Kimberly M. Ciesla and Robert N. Johnson, both of Anne Klein Communications Group.

Nikki Vlahos and Stevie Wagner

Dileimys Franco and Angela Giampolo (or as I like to call her, my lawyer.)

Kristen Foote and Nicole Cashman, Cashman & Assocs. Nicole does the PR for Hotel Monaco Philadelphia and Hotel Palomar.

Dinner was delicious. My friend Kristyn Aldrich and I shared a steak, a chicken pot pie (that was outta this world), the Red Owl Salad – hmm hmm good and a cherry pie that is the size of the ones you would get at More Than Just Ice Cream. Above is the fruit tart and a peanut butter chocolate whoopie.

Then we were whisked to the 11th floor and the Stratus Lounge. WOW I was so surprised at how amazing the space was. Lately all I kept hearing was negative nelly stuff like there’s no direct view of the skyline, but even with the fog and mist I could see the buildings. More importantly though it was outdoors, it was beautifully decorated with plenty of seating; it’s dope.

This is the bar area, which is under a roof with garage like doors with windows that close in inclement weather.

 The whole outdoor area is heated with heat lamps when necessary.

Kristyn standing in the future DJ area. There’s not a dance floor per se, but it’s a lounge and toe tapping is encouraged.

There are two enclosed pavilions at either end of Stratus Lounge, these used to be storage buildings for the historic Lafayette Building which is the Monaco Hotel, capacity for each is about 60 people, with windows that overlook Independence Mall, seating for about 30 in areas that are reminiscence of VIP bottle service, but there is no bottle service here, no minimum if you and friends are out for the evening.  It’s like getting VIP bottle service, but what is the normal service at a Kimpton property. They can also be rented out for private parties for a reasonable amount that includes a food and beverage amount. See John Christinzio, Lounge GM for more info.

Vapor – is the more sleek of the two pavilions, with it’s black and white decor, TV’s, many couches and a few tables;  It’s more intimate. I took the above shot with a flash, this is the room where you wanna listen to some Barry White with your boo.

Mist is bright and white. There’s a nice size community table running the length of the room, comfortable white chairs that might make your mother cringe if you drink red red wine in this room. The two windows have a great view of the Constitution Center, but no one’s gonna be looking out them except me, cause the action will be happening in the room. It’s the see and be seen room, it’s well lit.

Looking towards Vapor. There are conversation pits, a long couch and a 30 foot fireplace for those cozy nights with that special someone. The Stratus Lounge reeks of romance, as well as a great place to go with friends. There’s a lot of options on the roof top. It reminds me of Hop Sing Laundromat but outdoors. It’s a little bit off the beaten track, but it’s worth the trip.

In anticipating this property over the year I was wondering if it would attract locals or just remain a hotel property where guests are the predominately users of the restaurant and lounge. I’m here to tell you that this is going to be one hot property.  Red Owl Tavern has a diverse menu that will keep it’s hotel guests happy, as well as the locals. It’s eclectic like Square Peg, but still has standard fare that even little Mary would want to try. Stratus Lounge will be a destination point, where hotel guests, locals and people from the tri-state area will want to check out the scene, all year long and then tell there friends.

As I tweeted in the cab drive home last night:

Honestly the entire Hotel Monaco complex sets a new
standard for Philadelphia. It’s sophisticated, whimsical and delicious.

The hotel is gorgeous, the lobby reminds me of falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

Here are a couple links to photos & stories by the Foodies of Philly on Red Owl Tavern and The Stratus Lounge.
Michael Klein
City Paper – Stratus Lounge Menu
Foobooz – Red Owl Tavern Menu

uwishunu – Monaco Hotel Philadelphia


DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE BY dumping the traditional hotel and Booking a Night at THE INDEPENDENT Philadelphia’s New Classy Boutique Hotel

Style and substance are at the core of my choice for a boutique hotel and the newly opened Independent fits the bill. “Boutique hotel is a term popularised in North America and the United Kingdom to describe intimate, usually luxurious or quirky hotel environments. Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain/branded hotels and motels by providing personalized accommodation and services / facilities. ” The Independent at an address to remember 1234 Locust Street Philadelphia Pa 215-772-1440

Last week I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony (R-L) Stephanie Esposito, Vice President of Group Sales of Hersha Hotels, one of my hero’s (are you keeping count, did I ever mention I was a Foundation of Architecture Tour Guide for 7 years, there’s a theme here with who I admire most in this City) Director, CEO Meryl Levitz of GPTMC and Neil H. Shah, President of Hersha Hospitality, do the honors. Down this hall you will find 8 out of the 24 most beautifully appointed rooms that have graced Philadelphia. The Independent’s design reflects a charming sophistication that is consistent with the building’s architecture and the local area of Midtown Village. Interior Designer, Robert Moskowitz of Rittenhouse Interior Design Group, has redefined the four-story building’s interior, bringing a chic- refined aesthetic to the warm and inviting hotel. The 24-room charmer features hardwood floors, exposed brick, cathedral ceilings, and flat panel HDTVs. Oversized guest rooms range in size up to 470 square feet and are divided into ten standard rooms, twelve deluxe rooms, a gracious suite, and a residential duplex suite. Guest rooms feature hardwood floors with New Zealand Wool area rugs, custom window treatments, Robert Allen custom bedding, and the finest pillow-top mattresses available — Serta Presidential. Each room enjoys a variety of unique features such as fireplaces, exposed brick walls, cathedral ceilings, French windows, or loft bedrooms.

Having stayed in a few of Ian Schrager’s boutique hotels (let’s call him the father of boutique hotels) in NYC like the Hudson Hotel, The Parmount or The Gramercy, I have to say that the Independent has the same style and class but far more bang for your buck ($199 rack rate) and the rooms are twice the size. Philadelphia has been a world class city for awhile, and now we have a world class boutique hotel.

Most of the window views are of the wonderful Philly skyline, or the English garden next door.But all of them contain the brains that are located in the phone system which are placed in the room on the desk or on the night table. The phone operates an energy control system. As the guest enters the room, the phone is activated and the rooms temperature is elevated to an occupied mode. The guest then has normal control of the room’s electrical and HVAC systems through the phone. The system eliminates the need for sensors to be mounted on the wall or ceiling. When a guest leaves the room he can check out via the phone and the room goes into “unoccupied mode.” In this mode the room’s HVAC system’s operating temperature ranges are set back and the power to the switches and plugs is turned off to reduce energy consumption. The phone also controls the TV, the lighting system, the thermostat in the bathroom and most importantly the “Do Not Disturb” sign, which will be lit outside the door so no one will disturb you. No more getting up and placing the darn thing on the door knob. The bathrooms by the way are chic, carry fine skin care products and shampoos that would’ve found their way into my pockets had they not already been occupied with camera batteries, note pad and pen. (Oh the funny story I could tell you when I stayed at the Paramount last year, but it’s 2:30AM on a work night)
Some bathrooms have exposed brick, which I found a bit sexy (blush) and could become rather steamy with those hot weekend rates the hotel has been promoting ($149). It was interesting for me to see that other hotel management was invited to check out the Independent. I was told that this is done because if the said hotel is overbooked they might consider sending guests over to the Independent or visa versa. Did I mention that each room comes with a mini refrigerator and microwave. I would suggest that you cancel that Marriott Residential hotel reservation and book a week here instead.
After the touring was done lunch was serves, which was catered by John Stock who served Philly’s favorite mini hoagies, sandwiches, salad and delicious lemon bars. Drinks were served on the house marble breakfront, where a continental breakfast and evening cocktails will be served.
I also had a chance to meet these lovely ladies and talk about the Independent and the quaint MidTown Village. (L-R) Ann Lage, Rittenhouse Interior Design Group, Denise S. Kaminski, Mgr. Royal Bank America and Debbie Gilmore (Royal Bank America). The hotel’s lobby is accented by a crystal chandelier and features a 30-foot by 8-foot, hand-painted work of art created by local muralist, Kim Senior. Senior is an accomplished Philadelphia artist whose mural and screen paintings can be seen around the city in both classical and contemporary styles. For The Independent, she has created a vibrant image of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, which spans three stories, rising from the hotel’s lobby. Moskowitz’s design paired with Senior’s vivid piece de resistance offers guests a tailored, soothing feel amidst a rich color palette. (Check out Kim Senior’s work here and read the story of how she painted the mural SIDEWAYS!! http://kimsenior.blogspot.com/ ) The lobby is also where you may meet anyone of the helpful people below,

but there’s a good chance you will find Jim Evans the Resident Manager of The Independent, who can answer your questions, send you off to a nice restaurant or direct to your desired location.Finally, the hotel is stylish and chic, but I think you will want to stay here because you’ll like the intimacy, the comfortable beds, the breakfast, the location, and especially the price. BREAKING NEWS: Last minute 4th of July rate they are offering for the entire weekend, it is $139 a night.

PS Have A Safe Holiday Weekend, but if you’re near a computer I will be posting over the next three days, it’s a selfish thing as I am nearing my year anniversary and I want to go over the 100ks mark by the time I hit it Monday. Also I want to stay on top of the timing of my photos. I want to get the events to you in real time ie the day after I shoot it, unless of course something is going to be published as I have those contracts that limited me from scooping the paper. Thanks so much for stopping by.