Developer Eric Blumenfeld says he's "60 days" from starting demolition at 600 North Broad Street, the former Wilkie Buick service center, to build Lofts 600, his planned 85-unit apartment building. He says it'll have first-floor retail, and a "spiritual connection" to his 265-unit Lofts 640 up the block, where he also wants to add a couple more fancy restaurants, besides Marc Vetri's La Osteria.
Blumenfeld says he's supplying the equity portion of the $40 million needed to pay for Loft 600. He bought the site from Wilkie President Don Pollett for $9 million three years ago. Blumenfeld won't name the bankers lending the rest of what he needs, yet. But he says he's not scared to start work amid the slowdown: "As they tell you in racecar driving school, when you see a crash in front of you, aim for it, cause by the time you reach it, it'll be somewhere else." He says the job will take 14 months.
Blumenfeld just refinanced Lofts 640, a converted factory. "Even with the world upside down, you can get good projects financed," he said. Especially apartments, still in demand as condo and home sales sag.
Capmark Finance Inc. has lent $33 million in permanent financing for 640, with backing from Freddie Mac, to BR Penn Realty Owner LP, an affiliate of Blumenfeld's EB Realty Management, replacing construction financing by Wachovia Bank. Loft 640 is "94% occupied," Capmark's Jeff Heath said in a statement.