In February, Mayor Nutter announced that he wanted to restore everyone’s favorite dilapidated behemoth, the Divine Lorraine Hotel. This week, we’ve gotten our first glimpse at a possible future for the 100-year-old building.
Eric Blumenfeld, a local developer, wants to transform the Divine Lorraine and the land surrounding it into a sort of hybrid school for students from Masterman School, Franklin Learning Center, Benjamin Franklin High and Parkway Center City High.
Blumenfeld is currently working with a local artist on plans to restore the historic building, but he still has a long way to go before the plan is approved, as he’ll need all four school’s principals to approve as well as various parent groups.
“Discussions have been preliminary in nature, and we’ve made no commitments to do anything at this point,” says Danielle Floyd, deputy for strategic initiatives for the Philadelphia School District.
Blumenfeld’s vision for the school marks a drastic change from the status quo; lunch would be provided by Marc Vetri, high tech science labs would be installed and there’d also be a contemporary art museum offering art education for students. The new school would effectively extend the Avenue of the Arts into North Broad, which coincides with the city’s ongoing desire to renew that area of the city.
Currently, the Philadelphia School District is $629 million in debt and undergoing a process of “rightsizing” to address its almost 40,000 empty seats. By combining the four schools into one campus, the city may be able to recoup millions in sales from the original buildings while overhauling the historic landmark and revitalizing the neighborhood.