Eric Blumenfeld is on the brink of building Philly's next great neighborhood.
Developer Eric Blumenfeld was headed to Temple University from Center City about 10 years ago when he suddenly looked at North Broad Street through different eyes. “‘Wow,’ I said to myself, ‘there are some beautiful buildings up here,’” he remembers. “What potential.”
Potential is now reality, as Blumenfeld has reconstituted 640 North Broad and the Wilkie car dealership and, in late 2015, the Thaddeus Stevens school administration building into residential and commercial spaces, which include such restaurants as Osteria and Vie.
Now he has his sights set on North Broad’s most iconic structures—the towering Divine Lorraine Hotel and the unassuming Metropolitan Opera House at 858 North Broad. Both are more than 100 years old and will take extensive work to become what he envisions—condos and restaurants for the Divine (he says by the end of 2016) and performance space for the Met—but Blumenfeld thinks they are the cap- stones of his decade of development.
“The day we closed on 640, I could only see poverty, but once we turned the lights on, that all changed,” he says. “And the community that came there is taking charge. Philly people want to be pioneers in a new place, and they have transformed this one like mad.”
Other developers are now moving into the area he “discovered,” but rather than bothered, Blumenfeld is welcoming. “One plus one is seven. Their projects will only enhance mine, and that is a good thing,” he says.