Monday, May 25, 2015

$575M Makeover Planned for Philadelphia’s Gallery Mall

The venerable Gallery at Market East will soon undergo a complete and rebranding thanks to an agreement between Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, the Macerich Company and the City of Philadelphia. A two-year construction process will begin to redesign the Gallery and turn the historic mall into a contemporary retail space housing 125 stores, and renamed the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia at Market East.

The redevelopment plan, which will cost $575 million, includes a total redesign to remake the 1.5 million-square-foot space into a highly accessible, airy and light-filled shopping and entertainment center with discount outlets of high-end retailers, street-level shops, sidewalk cafes and more.

Plans include 125 new stores, along with revamped dining and entertainment options. The transformation will involve a new glass-walled Center Court at 9th and Market Street.

Once complete, the overhauled multi-use space would connect the shopping and entertainment assets inside the center with the vibrant city outside, allowing for tons of natural light and a dynamic flow of pedestrians and shoppers.

Legislation passed by the City Council includes:
  • $55 million tax break for the developers from the city and the state.
  • At least a $12/hr minimum wage for employees of the developers and their subcontractors, but not including retail workers
  • City residents would get the first opportunities for employment at the mall
  • The right for kiosk vendors displaced by construction to relocate within the completed mall

Inside, a glass-walled and light-filled Center Court at 9th and Market would become a hub for shoppers, visitors, office workers, conventioneers and residents.

Outside, the 9th Street underpass would become a key access point for the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia at Market East.

The dramatic renovation plans for the interior concourse include adding tons of windows to allow for natural light and bright light-reflecting white tiles, transforming the outdated mall into a contemporary entertainment destination.

Construction would close the existing Gallery for approximately two years, with a scheduled reopening in spring 2017.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Massive Mixed-Use Complex Planned For Fairmount Avenue

A company named Broad Street Holdings is planning to construct a supermarket, two parking levels, two residential towers, and 27 residential row homes at 1300 Fairmount Avenue, a large development site directly behind the Divine Lorraine Hotel in North Philadelphia. New York developer RAL Companies & Affiliates is designing the 860,000 square foot project which will be located just a block away from the Broad Street Line’s Fairmount station.

Plans for the massive development call for construction of a large supermarket, with an attendant parking garage that will front on Ridge Avenue, while a belt of row houses will line the block bounded by 13th Street, Melon, Park, and Wallace Streets.

Finally, at the corner of 13th Street and Fairmount Avenue, two midsize residential structures would be erected: a 15-story mid-rise residential building facing Fairmount Avenue, and an 18-story apartment tower, about the same height as the Divine Lorraine.

A short part of Melon Street–between Ridge and Park Avenues–would also be erased in favor of the supermarket. The market will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood as two large new apartment buildings are just two blocks away.

It is difficult to attempt large-scale projects on North Broad Street. The street calls for higher densities than what is being built in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Blumenfeld Development, which owns the Divine Lorraine and Metropolitan Opera House, developed 600 North Broad and Lofts 640, and is currently working on Mural Lofts in the former Thaddeus Stevens Public School, has been going at a relatively slow pace in large part for this reason.

Broad Street Holdings, based at 275 Seventh Avenue in New York City, bought the property from the City just prior to the beginning of 2014 for one dollar, a fraction of a percent of the parcel’s $6.3 million assessed value.

The developer is now seeking $15 million in state funding for this project.