The renovation of the Divine Lorraine was always going to be the key to unlocking the potential of North Broad Street. For years, the blighted beauty at Broad & Fairmount offered a window into the glorious history of this corridor and provided an example of architect Willis G. Hale at the height of his powers. Unfortunately, years of vacancy and a couple aborted renovation efforts had left the building in a precarious position, a tantalizing architectural gem with a difficult path toward redevelopment. Fortunately, the folks at EB Realty brought the Divine Lorraine back from the brink in 2017, putting a foot on the accelerator for development up and down North Broad.
Despite its non-Broad Street address, 13hundred Fairmount is the largest project to come down the pike on North Broad since renovation work started at the Divine Lorraine. We first told you about it over five years ago, though construction didn’t start until 2018. It may have taken a little while to get moving, but since construction began it has moved at a rather rapid pace, and now the exterior of the building is nearly buttoned up. The Aldi supermarket on the first floor of the project will be ready to open any day now, just in time for a Thanksgiving where many people will be unexpectedly cooking for themselves. With the entrance to the supermarket so close to the Divine Lorraine, the juxtaposition of the historic and the contemporary is a bit jarring.
As for the rest of the project, it has evolved a little since our previous coverage. The initial plans called for a 20-story residential tower, but the height came down to 15 stories as the project moved through its permitting process. The unit count remained fairly close to the original plan, with a total of 486 units and a parking garage with 287 spaces. In addition to the Aldi, there will also be a Chesterbrook Academy preschool in the building, which will be able to take advantage of green space on the roof of the third floor. We should mention- though it might appear that the project is connected to the Divine Lorraine, it’s actually being developed by a different party, RAL Companies out of New York.
The addition of 500 new units and a supermarket, along with the hundred or so units inside the Divine Lorraine, collectively represent a sea change for this section of North Broad Street. The new density on the corridor will make things all the more attractive for businesses to open on North Broad, and will mean good things for the restaurants coming soon to the Divine Lorraine. We’d argue that the RAL project would never have happened if not for the renovation of the Divine Lorraine and it’s by their powers combined that we’re seeing other projects to the north and south. As additional projects continue to come through the pipeline, we’d go so far as to say that this corridor will be one of the hottest in town over the next decade. And like we said earlier, we believe it’s all thanks to the rebirth of the Divine Lorraine.