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PHILADELPHIA-The Trammell Crow Co.’s student-housing division has acquired the Divine Tracy Hotel in University City with plans to convert it into a private dormitory. The seller is Gladwyne-based Palace Mission Inc., which was founded by the late Rev. MJ Divine, best known as Father Divine, who also once owned the city’s Divine Lorraine Hotel.

In an unusual transaction, TCC paid about $9 million for the 144-room Divine Tracy at 20 S. 36th St. and also created the Father Divine’s International Peace Mission Scholarship, which will provide full room and board in the facility for four students each year for five years. All four scholarships for the 2007-08 academic year and at least two of those for the remaining four years will go to students of Drexel University. The others may go to students of the University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences or Drexel.

“There was tremendous interest in the property from both local and national builders of student housing and from hotel operators,” says Jonathan Stavin, first vice president in the local office of CB Richard Ellis. He and first vice president Ann Bailey marketed the building for Palace Mission. “The scholarships have an aggregate value of $250,000,” Stavin tells GlobeSt.com, “and Trammell Crow’s willingness to fund them was a major factor in its selection from among the bidders.”

The Divine Tracy, the Divine Lorraine’s smaller sister hotel, was constructed in about 1925 and renovated in the 1980s. It continued to operate as a low-cost hotel until this summer. TCC will substantially preserve existing layouts of the 75,000-sf, seven-story building while converting it into a private dormitory.Joe Ritchie, a vice president in the Conshohocken office of Dallas-based TCC, represented the buyer in the transaction. Calls to Ritchie were not returned by deadline.

Palace Mission is liquidating some properties to fund a library of Father Divine’s history and works. His International Peace Mission, unable to fund restoration of the Divine Lorraine, vacated the North Broad Street building in 2000. Since then, the Victorian building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has traded hands four times, most recently in May to a partnership that plans a student housing component to serve nearby Temple University.

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