North Broad Street's Divine Lorraine may soon see signs of life. The long-neglected twelve-story structure is the focus of Mayor Michael Nutter's efforts to revitalize the burgeoning corridor, he announced at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon today.
"Part of this strategy is to identify where we can work together, and where the government can also spur growth and development," he said. "And I have just the place to start: we are actively pursuing opportunities to finally transform the Divine Lorraine."
Built in the late 1800s as luxurious apartments for the wealthy and later converted into a hotel operated by controversial religious leader Father Divine of the Universal Peace Mission Movement, the Divine Lorraine has long fallen into disrepair, marred by graffiti, broken windows and boarded-up entryways.
But that will soon change, Nutter said. "As I speak, there is a renewed interest in the Divine Lorraine with my team – and City Council President Clarke – directly involved in the rebirth of this great Philadelphia building."
Deputy Mayor for Commerce and Economic Development Alan Greenberger said it was too soon to discuss possible buyers.
"There are active conversations," he said. "Because of how big it is and the floor plans, it lends itself to residential-type development. What kind, we don't know, whether it's a hotel or apartments. The question is finding someone who can do that."
He said that its restoration is definitely on the agenda for the Mayor's final four years in office. "The mayor and I are determined to get it done because, if not, it's a big, tall billboard of blight."