Mysterious Buyer Could Save Divine Lorraine Hotel

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor Almost one week after Mayor Michael Nutter assured the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce that the city will actively pursue redevelopment alternatives for the dilapidated Divine Lorraine Hotel, the property’s owners announced that a sale is [...]

Almost one week after Mayor Michael Nutter assured the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce that the city will actively pursue redevelopment alternatives for the dilapidated Divine Lorraine Hotel, the property’s owners announced that a sale is imminent and plans to renovate the property could follow. A local developer whose identity remained undisclosed is currently analyzing the terms and conditions and could close the deal on the building and an adjacent 3-acre vacant lot within less than a month, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Divine Lorraine Hotel, or the Lorraine Apartments, is one of Philadelphia’s most known landmarks. It was built between 1892 and 1894 at the corner of Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue in the northern part of the city under plans designed by architect Willis G. Hale for residents who became wealthy due to the industrial revolution. The Metropolitan Hotel Company purchased the high-end apartment building in 1900 and repurposed it as the Lorraine Hotel. Almost half a century later the building was sold for $485,000 to Father Divine, the leader of the Universal Peace Mission Movement, who renamed it the Divine Lorraine Hotel – America’s first fully racially integrated hotel open to individuals of all races and religions who would follow this movement. For many years the hotel’s kitchen on the first floor served as a public dining room where meals would cost only 25 cents.

In 1999 the International Peace Movement decided to close the building and sold it one year later to a New York developer who, in 2006, resold it for $10 million to Lorraine Hotel LP, a joint venture between local builder Michael Treacy and his son, Dutch firm Sunergy Housing and Michigan-based NSI Real Estate Group. The group’s plan to reconvert the property into affordable apartments was unsuccessful and the site was left vacant and damaged, with walls covered by graffiti and boarded up windows.

Though no further details have been announced regarding a potential renovation plan from the new owner, CBS Philadelphia notes that the City Council is positive about the change of ownership and is prepared to review a redevelopment proposal once the transaction is closed.

Photo credits Absecon 59, Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons license