The Gallery Is About to Become Beautiful

Mall developer will invest $106 million to redevelop mall into “accessible luxury retailing” site.


The Gallery is about to become something very, very different.

The Inquirer reports that the urban mall — known and sometimes (but not always) loved for its grittiness — is about to undergo a major renovation:

California-based Macerich Co., which owns 55 U.S. shopping centers including the Deptford Mall, will invest $106.8 million in a joint venture to redevelop the Gallery at Market East and offer “accessible luxury retailing” there, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, owner of the 1.4 million-square-foot Center City shopping complex, said Tuesday.

In a Tuesday evening statement, PREIT said Macerich has experience leasing retail space “in dense, urban environments” – it has malls in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. Macerich will acquire a 50 percent interest in the Gallery under terms of the deal. PREIT will invest with Macerich in Gallery improvements on a 50/50 basis.

Indeed, the transformation has begun: Kmart closed earlier this year, and a Century 21 fashion store is remodeling space at the east end of the Gallery with an eye toward an October opening.

Previous headlines:

Congratulations, PREIT – the Gallery Is All Yours!

Property: Let’s Get Real About the Gallery

Property: The Gallery Will Not Get High-End Stores

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  • TheHeavy

    Should be interesting. Now if you can only fix up the schlubby shoppers to match the new decor.

  • Boots Electric

    Now all they have to do is move the Greyhound terminal, family court and the municipal justice building, and that neighborhood will be dreg-free.

    • insolito

      I heard that family court is being moved to the new building at 15th and Arch

    • 95% of the what’s wrong with the Gallery is the shoppers.

    • kclo3

      There was a proposal a while back to bury the bus terminal underground and build high-rises above. If only Greyhound was planning to sell its air rights; it’s the 2nd busiest bus station in the US for god’s sake.

    • G Saia

      Family court will be relocated in the next 2 years or less. If you haven’t been to that block recently the entire square block between 11th and 12th on Market was recently bought out including the family court location. All of the stores on Market have closed and the word is that a major development is going to be built….looks like Center City is movin on up!

  • Patricia Tierno Polichetti

    The Gallery died when Strawbridges closed. It’s a filthy, crime ridden place where there are no decent stores and no security. I threatened to kick some little *&#* down the escalator one time (last time I was there) because he tried to steal my phone from my pocket. He changed his mind when I yelled at him at the top of my lungs. Who really wants that experience when you want to just walk thru and browse? Now the only thing it’s good for is escaping the bad weather outside.

  • Denise Rambo

    Well Century 21 isn’t luxury … it’s just another version of Ross, Marshall’s & TJ Maxx.

  • Dragon

    I’ll believe when I see it. It was terrible 15 years ago when I last walked through the place.

  • DTurner

    I don’t really understand people’s problem with the Gallery. DC was able to build a thriving shopping corridor IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GHETTO in a neighborhood that was ground zero for a race riot only a decade or so earlier. If they can pull it off, I’m pretty darn sure that we can make the Gallery a more inviting commercial space.

  • nissinphilli

    I love urban regentrification, I just don’t want to do the folks who, can’t even be so bothered to leave their PJs at home, as though it’s bed-time “down town,” all day! I wonder, if they have ever read Coco Chanel’s book with regards to ” life lessons?”

  • Dan

    Welcome to the racism of the 21st century, where malls that are frequented not by white people who have center city condos or who are visiting from the suburbs can be considered ‘not beautiful’, even though it is filled with beautiful (though, again, not rich and white) people.

    Shame on Philadelphia Magazine for printing such an article with it’s veiled racism, dog whistles, and classism. And shame on the neanderthals that have posted here to voice their approval. Sorry, but I love the Gallery as it is. We don’t need one more Center City location turned over to bland, upper-middle class, white culture.

    It’s incredible to me that such articles are still printed in 2014, and even more incredible that they find an audience. Joel, even if you weren’t attempting to bring the idiots out on this one, in light of the fact that you have, I strongly suggest taking this down or rewording it. “Beautiful” is not an appropriate term here.

    • G Saia

      Clearly you’ve not visited the gallery recently. I unfortunately have no choice but to visit regularly. The selection of stores and restaurants is pathetic. It’s anything but beautiful and the people are hood trash, junkies and vagrants. Kids cut class to harass and rob people. A group of kids jumped a lady last year minding her own business….and yes both the kids and victim were not whites. It’s about damn time someone took that festering cesspool and did something good with the space. It’s Center City and should reflect a classy, sophisticated, metropolitan atmosphere– not a glorified strip mall. I am not white and the people of the Gallery are a mixed bag of cultures not just black. It’s a disgrace….get over yourself and open your eyes.

      • L-MO

        I agree with G Saia above, I have worked in the city for 15 years and have to walk through the Gallery every day to get to the train, and I see all the same things. I don’t mind “urban”, and I don’t care what color you are since I’m biracial, but when people feel unsafe just passing through, then things have to change. Other cities with as much crime and sketchy people manage to have nice places for tourists and others to patronize, why can’t Philly? The King of Prussia mall has just as much of a mixed bag of people of all races shopping there as downtown Philly does – but manages to be classy instead of trashy. There’s nothing good about the Gallery except for Giovani’s pizza!

        • Dan

          I grew up going to KoP more often than the Gallery, so I know what you mean regarding their differences, but what you point to is an issue of beefing up security, and it doesn’t mean we have to stigmatize people who go to the Gallery just because they’re poor.

          KoP is one of the richest malls in the US and in one of the richest regions of the US. I think what is happening here is that people see wealthy culture as “good” and “classy” (and – cough cough – white), and see the culture of those in the Gallery as “trashy” and “hood” and a “cesspool”… oftentimes veiled references to simply being poor and Black in Philadelphia.

          There may be a crime issue, but there isn’t a culture issue. Poor and black is just as “good” as rich and white (or rich and whatever race) in my mind. I think we should focus our attention more on why the poor are poor and the rich are rich in Philadelphia, and stop talking down to people who aren’t drinking Starbucks lattes, wearing NorthFace jackets, reminiscing over the latest Johnathan Franzen novel about their most recent trips to obscure corners of Europe.

          The poor of Philadelphia are that way because of a deeply racist history in this country, and the rich (myself included) are that way because we have disproportionately benefited from that unequal relationship. If we hadn’t had slavery, and then Jim Crow, and then racist laws (i.e. red lining in housing loans, drug sentencing minimums for drugs that were more common in the Black community, the most regressive taxation in the developed world) that continue to today, I wouldn’t be a rich as I am and I wouldn’t have been shopping at KoP during my years in private school on the Main Line.

          So, I think we need to think more about whether it’s Black or White culture that’s really the problem here.

          • Boll

            Man, you are a piece of work. Black people want to go to a beautiful mall too. Black people want to be safe when they go to a mall. Black people also want to shop in a thriving, upscale, modern, sophisticated mall. Black people want to stay away from riff raff, criminals, thugs, hobos, violent school kids, robbers etc. Calm down, all you are doing is throwing around clichéd race based worn out cultural guilt baits when all people are saying here is that they want to shop in a clean, safe, good, beautiful mall. No one is saying throw black people out of the new mall.

          • L-MO

            My point was, a lot of people from Philly (who may be Gallery shoppers as well for all I know) take the bus up to shop at KOP, and I know this because I’ve taken the 125 bus to get home on occasion, which stops at the mall and lets off just about everyone. So why can’t there be a good shopping mall in the city as well – since KOP is a draw for everyone in the area, not just the rich white people? I agree with Boll below, everyone wants to shop in a nice place, and that isn’t the Gallery as it is currently!

            A new MAC cosmetics store just opened there last week, so maybe things are looking up. It’s a start, anyway.

          • Dan

            I think the reason why a place like KoP (and what is “a place like KoP”? Marble floors, particular kinds of stores where wealthier people are known to shop, more fine restaurants and fewer fast food chains) exists is because they are catering to the wealthy people who live on the Main Line. The reason why the Gallery “isn’t nice”, as people here have described it, is because it is catering to poorer people, to people who the commenters here don’t consider “nice”, or wealthy, or beautiful.

            To Boll’s comment, I’m not sure if black people and poor people want a “thriving, upscale, modern, sophisticated mall.” I guess it depends what you mean. Would the current people who shop at the Gallery want to shop at KoP instead? They would certainly want the money to shop at a place like KoP, but our society is structured such that there are some people who have access to places like KoP and there are people who have access to places like the Gallery. If the Gallery suddenly had an influx of wealthy white people from the suburbs, the shops would change to cater to their tastes. If KoP suddenly had an influx of poorer black and white people from Philadelphia, the shops would change to cater to their needs.

            My point is that the mall is a reflection of the economic level of the people who shop there. When this article says that the Gallery will become beautiful, it’s talking about displacing the people who currently shop there and replacing them with wealthier people from the other side of Broad St. I wish they’d just say that instead of talking in this coded language.

            And to reiterate, I like that there is a place for poorer whites and blacks to shop in Center City. Right now the wealthy people from Rittenhouse have to stop at Macy’s and then turn around. It would be a shame if they displaced the poorer shopping districts further down Market St., in the Jefferson Hospital area and the Gallery. I like economic diversity within close quarters in the downtown area. The last 20 years have seen enough gentrification.

      • Dan

        “Hood trash”, not “classy”. I got it. Say no more.

  • MB

    I’m waiting for the follow-up article: The Gallery is Not About to Become Beautiful.