The Divine Lorraine is a weird and wonderful building. I’m not an “urban archaeology” nerd or anything, but I can totally appreciate this quirky piece of architecture that’s essential to the historic fabric of Philadelphia. I even follow the Divine Lorraine preservationist movement on Facebook. That’s where I happened to see a post suggesting that the condemned North Broad apartment building had been slated for demolition by L&I. I walked around, holding onto this unfortunate news for the last few weeks, and I was ready to vent about it here. Fortunately, it turns out that the Divine Lorraine won’t be razed, and the rumor stemmed from some orange “repair or demolish” notices that appeared on the blighted building to make it “more secure.” But, deep down, I feel like this might be one of those sneaky ways that city government primes residents for an unpopular decision. If the Divine Lorraine is, in fact, going to be demolished, I’d like to offer these three alternative uses for the building before anyone schedules the wrecking-ball.
Help it be what it’s become: Worried that the dilapidated Divine Lorraine is attracting junkies, prostitutes, and the homeless? Well, maybe she’s part of the solution, not part of the problem. I have a feeling that the Divine Lorraine wants to help. Transform the building into a safe place for Philadelphia’s underserved for maximum cosmic positivity.
It’s a living museum: Hey, you know why the preservationists are so fond of this building? It’s a jaw-droppingly awesome piece of history. Throw some money at turning the Divine Lorraine into a museum; one that chronicles its own rich history and that of the surrounding neighborhood, and watch that tourism money pile up. Did your ears perk up, right there?
A deal with the devil: Honestly, the last thing that neighborhood needs is a luxury condo, bringing an inevitable tsunami of “basic bitches” that will turn every new restaurant into someTGI-fine-dining Osteria-style bullshit. That’s a pretty horrible image, in my mind. But, if it’s the only way the Divine Lorraine will stay standing, someone call Steven Starr and get to planning.
– Lushlife aka Raj Haldar