Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Divine Mess

Mayor Nutter has been discussing the renovation of the Divine Lorraine on North Broad Street with Daryl Clark. Unfortunately, in the hotel's long bizarre history, none has been more detrimental to the architectural and cultural landmark as its last ten years.
After a Dutch developer gutted the habitable structure preparing it for luxury condos, the economy tanked. Instead of converting it into affordable apartments, a simple task after it was sold by the International Peace Movement Mission, the Dutch company ripped it apart with vague plans, and ultimately wound up in a battle with the district's Councilman, Daryl Clark over the topic of affordable housing.

Nutter said nothing of the financial situation surrounding the property that is now little more than a shell other than "it's complicated." He failed to address the owner's current property tax situation or whether the city would consider putting a lien on the property. As it stands, the property owner seems content to let it sit vacant until the city intervenes.

Clarke is doubtful that anything can be done to the property without funding from the city or state. Considering the current condition of the building, he's absolutely correct. What Clarke doesn't mention is that he directly created the current situation by crushing the developer's plan to convert the Divine Lorraine into condos, after the building had already been gutted.

As it stands, it looks like the best hope for the landmark would be subsidized housing or assisted living. It's true that something is better than nothing when it comes to such an astonishing building so close to demise, however if history shows us anything, if this becomes city operated property there is little hope that it will ever meet its full potential.

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