A few weeks ago, a petition made the Internet rounds and garnered much local attention. Philadelphia resident and executive director at The Philadelphia Salon, Caryn Kunkle, went public with her idea to take the continuously ignored Divine Lorraine and turn it into a contemporary modern art space. It read:
“Since this 4 acre lot is the only one of its kind available for development in any Center City district on the East Coast I propose a city-uniting project! Rather than condos which will be impossible to make profit from due to the crippling costs of repairing The Divine Lorraine: declare eminent domain on the land, allow us to purchase the property and implement my idea for PIMOCA.” [see full petition here]
Her argument was that the building continues to sit with no active progress since Philadelphia developer Eric Blumenfeld purchased it a few years earlier. By claiming eminent domain, she has dreams of transforming the space into a community art venue. PIMOCA, Philadelphia Interactive Museum of Contemporary Art, would be a central hub for everything art-centric in the region. Kunkle believes that by creating this space, it wouldn’t just be a connector for the art community but would influence the neighborhood folks in a more positive way than Blumenfeld’s plan to turn the building into new condominiums. Her hopes were to "sustain and maintain a beautiful part of history" while giving back to the community.
Despite Eric Blumenfeld’s wide-eyed proposal to transform North Broad Street, beginning with the dilapidated historical landmark that resides on Fairmount and Broad streets, the high interest that first surrounded the project began to lessen. Having not spoken on the matter publicly since 2012, community members started to question the integrity of his project and how certain it was. In light of Kunkle’s proposal, I reached out to Blumenfeld for comment.