For the first time in 40 years, a crowd outsde the former headquarters of Father Divine's church had seen the light.
The Divine Lorraine Hotel sign atop the brick building was lit up bright red on Wednesday night.
Real estate financier Billy Procida had pledge in May that it would happen,
“Do I s--- you or not? Do I make money for you?” he jovially called at the time to a crowd of real estate agents, investors and market analysts during a tour of the graffiti-covered goliath on North Broad Street.
Procida promised investors the singular piece of Philly architecture would draw investor interest and tenants.
“Picture that neon sign lit up!” he told the tour back in May. “We don’t even need advertising!”
Procida’s vision has become reality.
It’s one sign of several redevelopment projects that Procida is working on with developer and Philly native Eric Blumenfeld to “breathe new life into one of this city’s most notorious eyesores,” according to Procida Funding and Advisors.
Procida’s organization provided a $34 million loan as part of a $75 million investment in North Broad, the organization said in an email. “In the last three, Procida has completed over $100 million dollars of loans in Philadelphia alone.”
The Divine Lorraine at Broad and Ridge streets, built in 1892, is best known as the home of religious leader Father Divine’s International Peace Mission movement, which bought the building in 1948 and occupied it for decades. It later became a hotel before being left vacant in the ‘90s.
In the vision of Procida and Blumenfeld, the Divine Lorraine will be the centerpiece of what they believe will be a reactivation of the entire neighborhood along North Broad. Once completed, the Divine Lorraine is set to include 109 residential units with 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
“I never saw North Broad being about one project, but the entire corridor,” Blumenfeld said in a past interview. “We had to prove that people would not just live on North Broad Street, but eat, shop, and come to events here.”
Other projects in the neighborhood include the eventual renovation of the historic Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar streets into a concert venue and the opening of condos in the former Thaddeus Stevens School at Broad and Spring Garden streets, now redubbed the Mural Arts Building.