Obstacle to a true Avenue of the Arts

Osteria. 640 Lofts. Apartments at 1220 (North Broad). The success of those openings have breathed life into North Broad Street.

But hopes for a one-day continuous “Avenue of the Arts” stretching north from City Hall to Temple University may rest on the street’s most notable building of all, the Divine Lorraine. Vacant since 1999, its owners — and hopeful redevelopers — applied for $3.4 million in affordable housing grant money last week. That is a departure from the loftier goals they have previously proposed.

“It has great potential,” said Avenue of the Arts executive director Karen Lewis. “It’s really about getting any sort of development in a building that’s been unoccupied now for many years.”

Progress on any plan remains up in the air, however, according to Michael Treacy Jr., who had a hand in developing new homes west of the Divine Lorraine.

The developer of “Apartments at 1220,” now home to hundreds of Temple students, said there’s no easy road for the historic building.

“The Divine Lorraine itself is a major question mark,” said co-developer Chris Datz. “It’s a very well located property. You’re dead in the middle of the fringes of Center City residential and the fringes of university student residential. But it’s not going to happen overnight or the next 12 months.”

Another option for developer

Dormant since 1999, developers including Michael Treacy Jr., who helped build a community just west of Broad Street have not been able to move on plans to restore the building that was home to the city’s first non-segregated hotel. And last week, they applied for grant money to build affordable housing, according to a city press release.

“I’m just trying to move it forward,” Treacy Jr. said yesterday, adding that no plans have been finalized.

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