Flipping the Divine Lorraine
posted by Dave Hoffman
On my way to Temple Law from my home in Center City Philadelphia there sits the Divine Lorraine Hotel, famous as a symbol of the City’s ever-crumbling, once-proud glory. It sits on Broad street within view of City Hall, but has been shuttered and uninhabited for years. Now, for the third time this decade, a developer has bought the building. The last developer apparently made around a 100% profit in a little under three years (bought: $5.8 M; sold $10.1 M), riding Philly’s marvelous real estate
bubble boom reasoned uptick. The purchaser reports that the project will take about five years and is “extremely likely to happen… . It seems like a lot of nothing has happened there, but everyone has advanced the ball.”
Before we get too excited about the reclamation of this landmark, recall that this is Philadelphia. It’s been over a year since the last petty-ante municipal corruption investigation, so we’re due. And I’m sure the electrician’s union will come nosing around. Moreover, the new developer appears to be making a bet that Temple will continue to increase student enrollment over the next few years, and that a few of those students will want to live somewhere cheap, compared to center city, but lively, compared to campus. This seems like a big bet to make, given recent changes on campus.
So, I’m skeptical.
But if the renovation of the hotel pays off, it would be fantastic: restoring the Divine Lorraine would be a real feather in the cap of the City. It would be the last piece of the revitalization of downtown that has been percolating over the last decade.