The first phase of the massive East Market project includes office, residential and retail space. It’s the presence of the residents that’s driving office growth along the corridor. | Rendering © BLT Architects
Amid the numbers contained in JLL’s latest quarterly report on the Philadelphia office market were some moves that signal that life along Market Street East is about to get more interesting. In fact, it might even lead to the ultimate transformation of the entire length of Center City’s principal thoroughfare into an 18-hour live/work/play environment, if not a 24-hour one.
Two of the big ones were Five Below’s announcement that it will move its headquarters into the Lits Building at 701 Market and Pulver’s later announcement that it will build a speculative office and retail tower at 1301 Market. Coming as both do on the heels of the massive East Market office/residential/retail project, they signal growing interest among office tenants in the eastern stretch of Market.
There’s a good reason for this, said Lauren Gilchrist, vice president and director of research at JLL. Read more »
National and international retailers like Uniqlo have created positive buzz and helped turn around Chestnut Street’s fortunes, but independent local retailers remain the backbone of Center City’s increasingly strong retail scene. | Photo: M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia
Just as the influx of new residents into Center City ultimately overflowed its confines, the retailers and restaurateurs that are rushing to serve them are finding they need to expand their horizons in order to find suitable space.
That’s one of the main takeaways from “Center City Reports: Philadelphia Retail” (PDF), the latest in a series of periodic reports by the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, issued yesterday (Dec. 5). Read more »
Screenshot via Google Street View
Well, it looks like Pope Francis will receive an extra warm welcome when he makes his way to Philadelphia this September: The Inquirer’s Claudia Vargas reports the American Bible Society has decided to move their base to Center City this summer.
According to Vargas, the long-New York-quartered organization will lease “nearly 100,000 square feet on the eight and ninth floors” of 401 Market, the office building at Fifth and Market with the prominent “Wells Fargo” logo on its western roof line. (Wells Fargo occupies the majority of the building.) The lease, she writes, is for 25 years.
Plans for ABS has in mind for their new HQ building include a proposed “Bible Discovery Center” on the first level, conference center, rare Scriptures storeroom, and a concourse-level library, Vargas adds.
So, what prompted the change in HQ?
Screenshot of Outdoor Catalyst’s Philadelphia UEDs video.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but if things go according to one advertising company’s plans, Center City could get closer to taking on a “digital district” look not unlike a mini-Times Square (We have digital displays on the Lit. Brothers building now, after all).
PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports Catalyst Outdoor had an informational presentation before the Planning Commission on Tuesday regarding their proposal to build “three-dimensional digital billboards in a few corners of Center City.” In addition to featuring regular ads, these “Urban Experiential Displays” would “promote local nonprofit organizations, share news and ‘infotainment,’ and carry police and municipal alerts.” (You can see a video of their vision here.)
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If you’ve walked past the former Lit Brothers building at 7th and Market at all this past weekend, chances are you spotted what we told you was coming a few months ago: new LED billboards.
The wraparound digital signs are currently being tested, according to the Inquirer, but once permanently set are expected to “ignite a transformation” on the long dwindling commercial corridor via revenue from advertising contracts and the $10 million going into updating nearby public amenities.
• New lights shine over Market East [Inquirer]
Meanwhile, in other news…
Market Street side of Mellon Independence Center.
Photo credit: Google Street View
Construction making way for video billboards set to line the roof of the former Lit Bros. building on Market Street has begun. Philly.com’s Maria Panaritis reports $10 million went into the project with an additional $10 million going to updating nearby public amenities.
Investors and other involved parties are aiming for a New Year’s Eve light up as the area has long been a ghost of its retail past. The “stadiumlike, wraparound, LED signs” are expected to encourage redevelopment and bring in revenue, something it has already started doing:
Indeed, advertising contracts for billboards of this nature can be very lucrative. Merlini estimated that annual revenues from the signs to be installed atop the Lits building would be in the “seven figures.”
“We didn’t know what a revenue source it would be until we got into it,” he said, adding that advertisement contracts were already in place.
Here are other unfolding projects…
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The mysterious game-changing redevelopment project PREIT has planned for the Gallery has become a little less elusive. Sort of. Since October, PREIT has dropped more hints about what “transformative” retailers will bring to Philadelphia’s retail scene. From the Inquirer:
“We anticipate delivering a project that is a focal point for the City of Philadelphia, drives the transformation of the retail landscape in the city and the evolution of the corridor into a vibrant shopping, entertainment, and dining district.”
Apparently, the positive impact East Market Street gets will come from one of two ways:
“One is a high-fashion anchor center utilizing one of the four high-fashion department stores. Another possible alternative is what we call ‘fast fashion and food,’ if you will, and that is to redevelop [the area] more consistent with some of the more trendy suburban mall tenants – like the Forever 21, the H&M, the Uniqlo.”
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