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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Hoorah for answers (finally). Rumors that Nordstrom Rack is coming to the old Daffy’s space on Chestnut are true. With the recent announcement of Off 5th’s new online e-commerce site, this makes it a huge week for off-price clearance stores. Racked Philly first broke the news, and I’ve got even more of all the juicy details. Here, everything you need to know now about Chestnut’s latest: Read more »
Well, that took a very long time to resolve, but now it’s a done deal: Nordstrom Rack will open in fall 2014 at 1700 Chestnut Street — aka the former home of Dear, Departed Daffy’s. The off-price department store will occupy three floors, according to Racked Philly.
Oh, and for more shopping news, take a peek at our new sister site, Shoppist, which launched today.
Though we’re 99 percent sure Nordstrom Rack is moving into the former Daffy’s at 17th and Chestnut, no one will yet confirm, least of all Nordstrom itself. The company tells Julie Davis, of Racked Philly:
“We don’t respond to rumor or speculation regarding specific locations. If we have something definitive in place, we’ll share it.”
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Yesterday we broke the news that Madewell and Theory just signed leases on Walnut Street. Madewell will replace Arden B at 1716 Walnut, while Theory will go into 1616 Walnut.
Now Racked Philly reports that the Spanish shoe brand Camper is coming to town–at least, that’s what fashion bible WWD has to say. If the Philly store is anything like the new Nendo-designed Camper store in New York (pictured; photo by Jesse Goff), it’ll be pretty incredible.
Meanwhile, we continue to await the news of which store–or stores–will be moving into the Daffy’s space. We did post a countdown clock based on what a broker told us, but that just made readers hostile because we blew past the deadline by eons. What we believe now, based on multiple tips, is that there will be more than one retailer in the space, and one of those will be some variety of Nordstrom.
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THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN. According to Larry Steinberg of Fameco, the realty company that handles much of Center City’s retail sales and acquisitions, we have about two weeks before we find out who will occupy the former Daffy’s Center City location at 17th and Chestnut. You may remember that there was great wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of half-price garments when Daffy’s went out of business in that location. This pain led–with amazing alacrity–to speculation on what retailer would come next. Prior rumors: Forever21 and a European company no one ever heard of. Steinberg says it’s now down to two bidders, both apparel companies, and he suspects one of them will make a deal in the next 14 days.
But each company has different plans for the building, which has eight floors, each with 10,000 square feet. “The Daffy’s property was originally built as a department store, and that’s very rare for a high-rise real estate in our retail corridor,” Steinberg says. “You don’t see that hardly ever. Of course there was Wanamaker’s, but in our world of Rittenhouse Square it’s very unique. Each floor is built to be retail selling space. So we have been talking about how this building is best utilized.”
One of the bidders would like to use the entire building, while the other would like to use just the first four floors, including the basement. If the latter should happen, the upper four floors are up for grabs—could be a health club, apartments, whatever the mind can conjure up.
The bidders are currently considering price, of course, but also how they might use the space most effectively. The four-story bidder, for instance, is looking at selling out of the the basement and the first two floors and using the third floor as offices and storage.
JEMB Realty owns the building and the leasehold interests.