The Revisit: Does Century 21 Still Live Up to the Hype?

Century 21

The view from the Market Street entrance to Century 21. | Lauren McGrath.

When we got a sneak peek inside Century 21 before it opened in the fall of 2014, we couldn’t get enough of the Gallery’s brand-new, face-lifted megastore. But as so many stores have experienced time after time (ahem, Nordstrom Rack), it ain’t easy out there for an off-price retailer in the middle of the city. Call us cynics, but we worried about the state in which we’d find all that Chloé and Saint Laurent after all this time. High-brow doesn’t generally mix well with clutter.

I made my way down Market Street fueled by La Colombe and a burning desire to see the real state of affairs at Century 21, its grand-opening luster long gone. I had visions of gorgeous beaded Valentino platforms smushed on a shoe shelf next to patent leather Jessica Simpson heels and clothing racks in disarray. Braced for the worst, I dove in. Here’s what I found:

East Market: Hub of a New Design District?

Architect's rendering of the new Design Within Reach showroom at Market East

Architect’s cutaway rendering of the new Design Within Reach showroom at East Market | Image from D Form A (DFA)

An interior designer I recently had the pleasure to meet hails from Italy but has resided in the United States for well over a decade now. Nonetheless, one aspect of American urban commerce mystifies him: the tendency for similar businesses to cluster in identifiable districts in our large cities.

Apparently, there’s no Garment District in Milan, no Jewelers’ Row in Rome. That’s actually a shame if true, for districts like these offer distinct advantages for both merchants and shoppers alike. For shoppers, these clusters provided an easy means of comparison shopping long before the Internet came along. Merchants were assured more of the people passing their stores were interested in what they had to sell. And the businesses could more easily gain knowledge and trade insights with one another while keeping up the competition.

Both Jewelers’ Row in Center City and Fabric Row on South Fourth Street have survived for more than a century because of these advantages. Now it looks like a new trade hub is about to join them. Read more »

Rejoice! Design Within Reach Is Reopening in East Market

Design Within Reach Re-Opening

A rendering of the new interior. | Image via D Form A (DFA).

Retail news alert: The up-and-coming East Market shopping corridor is welcoming a new addition to its lineup of tenants, and this one is seriously good. Luxury furniture and accessories studio Design Within Reach is returning to Philly after a six-year hiatus and will bring some major clientele to the developing retail corridor at East Market.  Read more »

East Market Inks Design Center, Closes $38.5M Construction Loan

A view of 34 South 11th Street | Via Nation Real Estate Developer, BLTa, Morris Adjmi

A view of 34 South 11th Street | Via Nation Real Estate Developers, BLTa, Morris Adjmi

Things are really rolling at the East Market project at 11th and Market, specifically inside the building at 34 South 11th Street. National Real Estate Development and SSH Real Estate announced yesterday that they’ve inked a deal with the Design Center, a major resource for interior design professionals throughout the region, to lease 48,000-square-feet of space over two floors inside what was the Family Court building.

The group also announced that they have secured a $38.5 million construction loan with Wells Fargo to “fund the continued renovation” of 34 South 11th Street.

This news follows on the heels that MOM’s Organic Market will anchor the ground floor retail space at the site and, according to the press release, the Design Center is already looking to grow:

Read more »

Inside Look: The Massive Concrete Pour (and Progress) at East Market

The big pour. Photos by James Jennings

The big pour. Photos by James Jennings

The concrete pour at the East Market construction site got underway Monday morning, as 35 trucks are expected to funnel 350-cubic-yards of concrete for the foundation of the sub basement.

It marks the first real signs of vertical growth at the site, where copious amount of retail and restaurants (and digital signage) will anchor a residential tower holding 322 units and a green amenity deck.  We took a brief tour of the hole and the former Family Court Building at 34 South 11th Street.  We’ve got to admit, it was pretty damn cool to see the process unfold, and even more impressive to get near the work and take in the massive scope of the project.

Marshall French, construction manager with National Real Estate Development, said that a larger than normal crew will be pouring the footings for the sub basement today, which will bear the load for the tower portion of the project on 11th and Market. Read more »

East Market Update: Massive Concrete Pour Scheduled for Monday

The action over at the East Market project is about to really heat up, as the concrete pour for the foundation is scheduled for the morning of July 13.

If you’ve been past the site on Market Street between 11th and 12th recently, you’ll know it’s a giant hole in the ground. That will soon change. At least, that hole will soon be filled with a whole lot of concrete.

A rep from the project confirmed in an email that the pour is scheduled for Monday morning and will involve “35 trucks pouring approximately 350-cubic-yards of concrete to create sub-basement spread footings.” The pour is expected to take most of the day.

Read more »

Headlines: The Divine Lorraine, Comcast Grab State Grants

Photo: Jeff Fusco

Photo: Jeff Fusco

We’re back with an update from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) again, where a few major projects in the Philadelphia area got the thumbs up (at least partially, in most instances) for grants aimed “to attract and retain jobs in Pennsylvania by targeting large, economically transformative projects for development,” according to the RACP website.

EB Realty Management Corp. was granted $3.5 million of the $5 million for activation of the Arcade at the Divine Lorraine Hotel. Liberty Property Trust landed $10 million for “infrastructure costs related to” the in-progress Comcast Innovation and Technology Center. The Philadelphia Museum of Art $5 million for “infrastructure renovations and improvements.” The two behemoths on Market East, East Market (Girard Square) and the The Gallery, were awarded $2.5 million, respectively. $3.7 million went to the development of the Chinatown Community Center, also known as the Eastern Tower Community Center.

For a look at some of the major projects that did, and didn’t, make the cut (they can re-apply), check out Joe DiStefano’s column in The Inquirer below.

 More Headlines to Make Your Monday Special:

Read more »

The Beautiful Destruction of Market East

Snellenburg's in 1915

Snellenburg’s in 1915 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress)

A few years ago I bought a $10 photograph at Mostly Books. My friend told me it was too much, but I didn’t bother to haggle and now it’s on my wall. It’s of Snellenburg’s at 11th and Market. I’m not sure where it’s from, but there’s a card glued to it describing the old department store. The card says the photo is courtesy the Community College of Philadelphia. I’ve assumed it was in the lobby of a since-closed building, but that’s just a guess.

Of course, I never saw that Snellenburg’s in real life. The store closed in 1962. By the time I was a kid, it had been altered and was unrecognizable to the building today. I live nearby, and I occasionally stopped by some of the stores in the building (on the way back from The Gallery). It was your usual Center City strip: City Blue, USA Boutique, Hallmark, an eyeglasses store, a cell phone shop, a dollar store, a scrub shop, a store called “FUNKY” I never set foot in. Read more »

East Market: Timelines, Retail Space, Chestnut Walk and (Possibly) a Hotel

Here's 12th and Market | Via National Real Estate Advisors and BLTa

Here’s 12th and Market | Via National Real Estate Advisors and BLTa

As the East Market project just keeps charging along, we wanted to take a minute to examine how things stand with the game changing development at 11th and Market. We caught  up with Daniel Killinger, managing director of National Real Estate Development, the development team behind East Market, who told us a few interesting tidbits of information about its timeline, the retail and office space, Chestnut Walk and even the possibility of adding a hotel component to the mix.

Phasing Timelines:

As you know, the demolition of the former Girard Square site is now complete. “That was big for us,” said Killinger about the removal of the last piece on Market Street over the weekend. “Now we can get started with our foundation.” As such, National Development hired Tutor Perini to handle the construction of phase one of the project.

The project has a total of 322 rental units and Killinger said that “everything is on time and on schedule” at this point. He expects the first 100 units to deliver sometime in the second quarter of 2016. More units will continue Read more »

And So It Begins: Construction Loan Means East Market Will Soon Rise

Here's 12th and Market | Via National Real Estate Advisors and BLTa

Here’s 12th and Market | Via National Real Estate Advisors and BLTa

One of the more interesting developments to watch take shape over the past year or so has been East Market. The super block that was Girard Square gradually came down piece by piece, showing us signs of what was and, thanks to a gigantic hole, leaving us time to ponder what will be. Hell, we even got to check out some test materials in the process. Now, the project is set to take that next step.

National Real Estate Advisors and Ullico Inc. announced that they closed on a $141 million construction loan for the project at 11oo Market Street, according to a press release. The big money deals are all well and good, but from a built environment standpoint, we got all kinds of giddy at this part of the release:  Read more »

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