On the surface, Warby Parker opening a new location on Walnut Street isn’t huge news. Sure, having the tech-based eyeglasses startup in town brings in more tax revenue, raises the city’s cool factor, and ups our retail game another notch. But it means a whole lot more than that. It’s a sign that Center City’s retail landscape has changed in a big way.
First of all, it’s going into the old Le Bec-Fin space at 1523 Walnut. For years, Le Bec-Fin was the pinnacle of fine dining in Philadelphia led by legendary chef Georges Perrier. But times change, tastes change, and it finally closed in 2013. Chef Justin Bogle tried to resurrect the space as the more modern Avance but that closed after just 10 months. Read more »
Rendering of 725 Chestnut Street | via Urban Space Development Inc.
The 700 block of Chestnut Street is about to see some major changes. Sure, you could point to the 32-story tower proposal at the surface parking lot at 709 Chestnut Street as proof positive, but there are smaller plans in the works that will also have a significant impact.
For starters, the movement to have four architecturally important buildings designated as historic means that the character of the block will remain. (A welcome sight an ever-changing city, as well as for a block that features a garish parking garage at the corner of 8th and Chestnut.) That includes the former Quaker City National Bank Building, as well as a lesser known project that will see four condos (with asking prices over the $1 million mark each) added to the block at 725 Chestnut Street, the former home of the Philadelphia Blueprint Company. Read more »
A rendering of the project via Aquinas’ website.
Roughly 13 months after the project broke ground, AQ Rittenhouse will officially cut the ribbon and open its doors on Wednesday, May 13. The project from Aquinas Realty Partners transformed the blighted annex of the old YWCA at 2021 Chestnut into a 12-story, 110-unit mixed-use complex that will offer both luxury and market rate rentals. Read more »
The shiny new Chestnut Street storefront. | Photo courtesy Forever 21.
Although Forever 21 is typically deemed “throw-away” or “fast fashion” — ultra-trendy pieces made of low-quality fabrics — I’m an avid shopper of the chain. I’m a college student with a bank account that often dips into the single digits, and the rock-bottom prices work with my paltry clothing budget.
Forever 21 is well-known for its disastrous, messy stores —surely the result of simply having so much merchandise. So when I heard that Philly was getting its own outpost — nestled at 1708 Chestnut Street, just steps away from American Eagle and H&M — I was suspect. Forever 21 stores in the middle of suburbia are usually disorganized; how would a Forever 21 smack-dab in the middle of bustling Center City fare?
I gave the brand-new store just over a week to sort itself out (I visited the store on opening day, but left within minutes because it was so crowded). I finally ventured back today — right in the middle of the afternoon — to see if it met my high expectations for a city shop, or if it fell short. Here’s what I found. Read more »
Images by TREND via Redfin/Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty
Looking to get in on some condo-living near Rittenhouse without forking over a cool million bucks to do so? Unit #1100 at 1737-39 Chestnut Street just hit the market (again) and its 2-bed, 2-bath layout is the perfect size for house hunters, especially for Empty Nesters looking to downsize into some chic city- living.
The unit offers 13 south and west facing windows that offer unobstructed views of the city, including sight lines directly into Rittenhouse Square. Listing agent Patricia Royston tells us that the sellers are “very motivated to sell” and the unit has low condo fees ($663/month).
The eat-in kitchen features custom oak cabinetry with glass doors facing the those lovely windows to allow even more natural light to flow through the space. It’s then topped off with beautiful granite counter tops.
The two spacious bedrooms both have en-suite bathrooms, a major plus, and there’s even an office with custom built-in cabinets.
Originally listing in July for $870,000, the unit is now available for $849,000–so it seems that whole “motivated to sell” thing is true after all.
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New retail developments are growing at a good pace in the area and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon: the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Natalie Kostelni reports that the 10,000-square-foot building at 1700 Chestnut Street has a new owner who intends to convert the property’s top five floors into apartments.
The ground floor of the 8-story structure, you will recall, is now the site of the new Nordstrom Rack. This seems to be a good fit for Pearl Properties because, according to Kostelni, they already own six other properties on Chestnut and “specialize in mixed-use buildings” with ground floor retail. More details from PBJ:
The purchase of 1700 Chestnut will be no different. With Nordstrom Rack already locked in to approximately 40,000 square feet on the first three floors, Pearl plans to develop the top five floors into apartments, according to sources. There is a separate entrance off of 17th Street that will give residents access to that space.
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The line outside Nordstrom Rack on opening day, just before doors opened at 9am. | Photo by Tim Haas.
Discount retailer Daffy’s was in business for 20 years at 1700 Chestnut when it closed in 2012. Before that, the space was occupied by the independently owned department store Bonwit Teller, which I remember, from my childhood, as a wonderland of perfume mist and well-dressed ladies and hard-plastic name tags pinned to gray cardigans. Bonwit’s closed in 1990. A year prior to its closure, the Inquirer’s Susan Warner spoke to Ross Brightwell, who worked with the Chestnut Street Association, about what would happen if Bonwit’s left Chestnut Street.
…[Brightwell] said merchants would try to assure that another high-quality tenant would move into the space being vacated by Bonwit. “It’s very sad,” he said. “When you lose a name like Bonwit Teller, it will just reinforce this perception that Center City Philadelphia is on a downward spiral.”
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1441 Chestnut. Photo by Sandy Smith via the Philadelphia Real Estate Blog.
According to PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey, the developers of the planned W and Element Hotels at 15th and Chestnut (currently a parking lot) don’t need zoning variances to build their project. For this reason, their meeting with the Center City Residents Association next week, where they will present their new designs, will be for informational purposes only.
Here’s what to expect of the double tower:
According to a description shared with PlanPhilly by an attorney working on the project, the hotels will have a total of 755 rooms. There will be 295 rooms in the four-star W Hotel, and 460 rooms in the three-star, extended-stay Element by Westin. The entire hotel operation will be managed by Starwood, a Connecticut-based hospitality company.
The project will also include more than 1,700 square feet of retail space on the ground floor at the corner of 15th and Chestnut. The developer, Brook Lenfest, is seeking LEED Certification for the building.
Lenfest, if you recall, caused waves last year when he requested (and got) $33 million in tax breaks for the project.
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The extremely trendy and fairly inexpensive clothing retailer UNIQLO is invading the region: first, a store opened in the King of Prussia Mall. Then stores were announced for Center City’s Chestnut Street and the Willow Grove Park Mall. Now, Shoppist reports that the Tokyo-based company is coming to South Jersey as well, to the Cherry Hill Mall:
A rep confirms that the store will open on September 26th, just a week before the October 3rd opening at 1608 Chestnut Street. It will be on the main level, sandwiched between a Bath & Body Works and an Abercrombie & Fitch. If you’re counting, this is four UNIQLO stores to open region in less than a year. World domination next? (Or maybe just Delaware.)
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The Mercantile Library at 1021 Chestnut, as seen in 1964. Brickstone aims to make it a coworking space. Photo courtesy MSC.
This morning’s membership meeting of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) at the Union League was standing room only, and it wasn’t for the coffee and danish. The numerous guests in attendance were there for “New Center City Demographics: The Upside for Retail Leasing & Development,” a panel moderated by Center City District’s Paul Levy that included Larry Steinberg, Senior VP of CBRE|FAMECO; John Connors, VP of Brickstone Realty; and Eddie Gindi, VP of Century 21 Department Stores.
Despite interesting overall updates on the Center City residential market (Levy) and its retail market (Steinberg), the crowd was perhaps most interested in the presentations by the two who got specific about the projects they’re bringing to Market East — projects that will radically alter the shape of the neighborhood, or at least that’s what everyone is hoping.
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