Thursday, January 28, 2016

Blumenfeld: Philadelphia’s North Broad Corridor ‘Connects the Dots’

by Steve Lubetkin,
Philadelphia’s North Broad Corridor, one of the hottest redevelopment sites in Center City, can help “connect the dots” of redevelopment more broadly between the Center City area and the Temple University complex in North Philadelphia, Eric Blumenfeld, founder and principal, EB Realty Management Corp., tells exclusively.

“I’m going to talk about how we can connect the dots about where we came from and where we’re going, the distinctive buildings that we’re involved in and why they lend so much character,” he says. “How can we preserve them in a way that’s respectful of the past and see the need to cure obsolescence and create the best situation for the neighborhood.”

Blumenfeld, who is participating in the “Build, Rebuild, Renew” panel at ALM’s RealShare Philadelphia Conference February 9 at the historic Union League Club, has several signature projects in the works on North Broad Street. Coming off the ribbon cutting for his Mural Loft Apartments in the former Thaddeus Stevens School of Practice, a former school building at the corner of North Broad and Spring Garden Streets, Blumenfeld and his financing partner, William “Billy” Procida of Procida Funding recently launched the redevelopment of the historic Divine Lorraine Hotel in the neighborhood, which will encompass residential, office, retail, and dining space in an unusual and iconic building.

“It’s a lot about critical mass,” says Blumenfeld. “When we built 640 North Broad, the upper floors proved the residential model, that people would actually live on North Broad Street, and then Osteria proved the commercial model. That only happened because the development in the neighborhoods that flank Broad Street, Francisville and Fairmount, was happening for decades.”

Now that the Divine Lorraine, the Studebaker Building, and other projects are underway on North Broad Street, says Blumenfeld, “you can start to see North Broad Street as a kind of connected community that’s walkable and scalable.”

The demand is clearly there, says Blumenfeld.

“The absorption is very, very fast there,” he says. “We came on line with the Mural Arts building in late November and December, and here we are in late January, we’re 70 percent occupied. Nobody would have believed that. We expected it would take six months or maybe a year to absorb that community. And I’ve never seen a building have more of a mystique than the Divine Lorraine. I expect that to lease up even faster than Mural Arts.”

The “Build, Rebuild, Renew: Development and Redevelopment Around Philadelphia” panel, also will include as panelists Robert Cottone, president and CEO, IMC Construction; Michael D'Onofrio, managing director, Engineered Tax Services, and Gary Gabriel, executive vice president, Cushman & Wakefield of New Jersey. Moderating the panel is Carl Primavera, partner, Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg.

Panelists will discuss the area’s most notable projects as well as the in-demand geographical areas, available tax abatements, and impact on the community. Among the expected topics:

Will Camden do for Philadelphia what Jersey City did for NYC?
Where does repurposing fit into the thriving activity, and
Will these projects continue to flourish or will they falter from overbuilding?
The panel is scheduled to start at 11:05 a.m. The conference kicks off Tuesday, February 9 at 7:30 am at the Union League Club, 140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia.

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