Developer Sees Education in the Future of Divine Lorraine

Plan calls for historic hotel to be turned into art & education center for public school students

A developer is shaping a proposal to redevelop the historic Divine Lorraine hotel in Philadelphia, a National Historic Landmark that has been vacant for decades.

Eric Blumenfeld is working with a local artist to turn the hotel and the land behind it into a center for art and public education.

The unusual idea would cluster four nearby public schools -- Benjamin Franklin High, Franklin Learning Center, the Masterman School and Parkway Center City High -- onto one campus with a shared gymnasium, cafeteria and science lab.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports Blumenfeld has met with the schools' principals and district officials. Danielle Floyd, the school district’s deputy for strategic initiatives said discussions are very preliminary.

"We are excited about having a conversation and exploring the possibilities of supporting high-quality schools," said Floyd told the Daily News.

Blumenfeld is also working with Caryn Kunkle of the Philadelphia Salon arts collective on a plan for a museum in the hotel to provide arts education at the combined high-school campus.

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