Blumenfeld acquires Divine Lorraine | Council shrinking stream buffers | Great Chestnut Hill | Construction violations | Vote without ID

Good morning, Streeters. It’s one of those soupy days where the skyline has been swallowed by dense fog, with the lingering threat of rain and a high in the 80s. But if you’re a winter-hater, enjoy fall while it’s here. Forecasters say winter in Philly will be colder and snowier than last year, which frankly isn’t hard. 

Have the clouds parted over the Divine Lorraine? This week Eric Blumenfeld acquired the Divine Lorraine Hotel, the city’s most iconic ruin and the property that many have called the lynchpin for the redevelopment of North Broad Street between City Hall and Temple. The Inquirer reports that Blumenfeld bought the outstanding note on the property on Monday and on Tuesday he was the lone bidder for the property at Sheriff’s sale. Blumenfeld plans to convert the Divine Lorraine to 126 rental apartments and ground-floor commercial space – possibly for chefs Marc Vetri and/or Jose Garces. The project is estimated to cost $43.5 million. Blumenfeld also wants to acquire the vacant land behind the Divine Lorraine for development. The Daily News reports that Blumenfeld is also working to redevelop the historic Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar.

City Council keeps shrinking zoning buffers along city waterways, aimed primarily at protecting water quality. What gives? PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that even though the zoning code and a summer working group both reached consensus at a 50-foot riparian buffer, some (mystery) members of City Council are maneuvering to reduce the buffer to a paltry 25 feet. The puzzler: the role of Councilman Bill Green. Green’s office has sought to downplay his pivotal role in the discussion of the buffer protections.

Chestnut Hill is one of America’s “10 Great Neighborhoods,” reports The American Planning Association named Chestnut Hill to its 2012 list because of the neighborhood’s charming, but “uncommon assemblage of architectural styles and extensive use of indigenous building materials and native plants that blend seamlessly with the rocks, streams, and forests of Wissahickon Valley.”

Of the 96 active construction sites, 23 violated safety requirements and tax obligations according to a report by City Controller Alan Butkovitz’s office, reports the Business Journal.

When Pennsylvanians go to vote in November poll workers will ask voters for ID but no one will be turned away from voting, thanks to a partial injunction issued on Tuesday by a Pennsylvania commonwealth judge. An appeal is still possible. Remember: Pennsylvania’s voter registration closes October 9. Don’t forget!


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