'We're not demolishing' Divine Lorraine, city says

posted at the historic hotel is meant to keep the building secure, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said. The city is working to find a new owner for the North Broad Street landmark. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
posted at the historic hotel is meant to keep the building secure, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said. The city is working to find a new owner for the North Broad Street landmark. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer (The 'repair or demolish' order)
Posted: March 24, 2012

The neon orange notice on the front door of the Divine Lorraine Hotel on North Broad Street - declaring "repair or demolish" - set off alarm bells for preservationists.

Was the city going to bring down the bedraggled, yet beloved, historic hotel?

Fear not, said Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger.

It's all just an attempt by the city's Department of Licenses and Inspection to make the building more secure.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's fire at the abandoned and blighted Divine Lorraine, L&I is sealing off the building to discourage vandals.

Greenberger said Friday that after the fire, officials from the Fire Department and L&I examined the building and found many places where intruders could get inside.

Greenberger said the "repair or demolish" order was a procedural step to allow the city to take action.

"We're not demolishing anything," Greenberger said. The notice, he explained, gives L&I the legal authority to seal the building.

"We're going to get this button-downed better so we don't have crazy people breaking in and starting fires," Greenberger said.

Last Tuesday evening at 6:50 p.m., flames were spotted on the roof of the 10-story Divine Lorraine. Firefighters got the blaze under control by 8 p.m.

The city is working with the New York bank that holds the mortgage to the property to find a new owner. Empty for more than a decade, the building is deteriorating and is a favorite haunt of graffiti vandals, squatters, and urban adventurers.

To keep trespassers out, L&I will block empty windows or doors with masonry; remove lower sections of a fire escape in back and a bridge between the main building and annex; demolish a shack; and repair a fence.

The cost of the work will fall on the current owners, a partnership involving local builder Michael Treacy Jr. and Dutch investors.

"It's merely preventive measures to keep people from entering the building," said Jonathan Farnham, executive director of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.


Contact Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659 or jlin@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @j_linq.

|
|
|
|
|