Headlines: Developers to the State, You Know What’s Cool? A Billion Dollars

We just love highlighting all the big-time developments in this city. Hell, we devoted almost an entire issue to the “New Boom” back in March. But how do projects like the W Hotel, East Market The Gallery, the SLS International Hotel & Residences and even the Divine Lorraine get funded? A decent amount of it oftentimes comes from matching funds from the state in the form of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). In fact, Joe DiStefano of The Inquirer reports that “developers, corporations, colleges, hospitals and towns” have requested over $1 billion in funds from the state. Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett saw $1.1 billion in requests, but only “funded $207 million of projects.”

Philly alone at 66 requests, some goodies from this year include:

Highlights from the ‘burbs include:

DiStefano reports that Gov. Tom Wolf is actually seeking more requests for RACP funding. Check out the full list at the link below.

Developers ask Penna. for $1 billion+ [The Inquirer]

More Headlines For Your Enjoyment!

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Is There Really Going to Be a Retail Revival at The Gallery?

Philadelphia-Fashion-Outlets

A look at the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia. | Image courtesy PREIT.

PREIT finally released its renderings for The Gallery, and they are shiny visions of glass and gleaming white tiles and flashy digital signage. But underneath the high-shine veneer, what are we really getting?

First, there’s a name change. The Gallery — which has long since shed its identity as the key retail hub of the city — will be known as the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia. The name speaks to one of the issues Philly faces in nabbing prime national retailers: They’ll come, but only in off-price, discount form (see: Nordstrom Rack and, most likely, Bloomingdale’s).  Read more »

Headlines: The Gallery Moves Another Step Forward, It’s Now Up to Council

Is that The Gallery? No. It's the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia | Image courtesy of PREIT

Is that The Gallery? No. It’s the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia | Images courtesy of PREIT

In case you haven’t heard the news, there’s a $575 million renovation and rebranding project planned for The Gallery. In order to transform it into the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia, developers PREIT and Macerich first needed the approval of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (the landlord of the mall) and the School Reform Commission. Both entities met separately on Thursday to discuss the matter with the development team and each unanimously approved their part of the deal, clearing the way for City Council to consider it next week.

Jeff Gammage of The Inquirer reports that PRA agreed to a 69-year lease of the mall to PREIT and Macerich, which now makes things a whole helluva lot simpler in the complicated who controls what department: “The measure approved Thursday would consolidate the multiple interests that govern the Gallery’s operation under the control of the project developer.” Gammage also reports that PREIT “agreed to hire 25 percent to 40 percent women and minorities, depending on the job, as the mall is built.”

As for the SRC, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the board voted to create a special tax-increment financing (TIF) district for the property “that would save the mall’s owners $55 million in property taxes over a period of 20 years.” Basically, the developers are on the hook for only $1.6 million in taxes through 2036. Taxes jump to “around $11.4 million” per year after that.

Groundbreaking Philly Housing Complex Wins Top National Honors:

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Gallery Gets a New Name, Market East Could Still Get Eataly

gallery-interior-concourse-940This morning, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) and Macerich announced their grand new plans for the Gallery at Market East. The new mall will be called the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia and will feature lower-cost outlets of high-end retailers. The Gallery’s dead-to-the-outside exterior will also be revamped, opening the solid walls with glass fronts and sidewalk cafes.

Since 2013, Eataly, Mario Batali’s Italian wonderland of food and restaurants, has been rumored to be coming to Philadelphia and the location that keeps coming up is the former Strawbridges building at 8th and Market. The old department store is considered part of the Gallery project and despite Century 21’s recent opening on the second floor, the first floor remains vacant and available.

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The Secret Plans for The Gallery Have Finally Been Revealed

Is that The Gallery? No. It's the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia | Image courtesy of PREIT

Is that The Gallery? No. It’s the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia | Images courtesy of PREIT

Welp, the genie is now officially out of the bottle. PREIT and Macerich have finally come forward with their vision for The Gallery and it’s full of windows, digital signage, stark white floors, glassy escalators and 125 new restaurants and higher end shops, albeit it probably their discount lines. Hell, it won’t even be called The Gallery anymore. No, it turns out that Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia rebranding bit was true after all. It really is the end of The Gallery as we know itRead more »

Mega Mall: Simon Property Group Backs Out of Hostile Takeover Bid

Macerich co-owns The Gallery with PREIT | Photo: discoverPHL

Macerich co-owns The Gallery with PREIT | Photo: discoverPHL

Remember earlier this month when news trickled out that Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall operator and owner of Philadelphia (Franklin) Mills, ruffled some feathers by attempting a bold hostile takeover bid of Macerich, the third largest mall operator and mysterious co-owner of The Gallery? Well apparently, the deal is no more. The Associated Press reports that “called off” the $16.8 billion bid ($23.2 billion counting debt) in an effort to create some kind of Megatron of mall operators.

Macerich, who repeatedly rebuffed Simon’s takeover attempts, Read more »

Morning Headlines: Archdiocese to Demolish Fishtown’s Saint Laurentius Church

st laurentius church

Photo: Google Street View.

Saint Laurentius Catholic Church has seen some things in it 133-year existence on the corner of East Memphis and Berks Street in Fishtown. Many a mass, wedding, baptism and funeral have occurred underneath its iconic twin steeples, but the last two years have not been kind to the former place of worship, especially its beautiful, yet failing, structure.  In a letter read as mass on Sunday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that the church founded in 1882 will soon be demolished.

According to The Inquirer, the church has been in rapid structural decline since it merged with Holy Name of Jesus parish in September 2013 and closed altogether in March 2014 due to safety concerns.  The letter from the the Archdiocese, dated March 22, says it weighed the structural issues with cost of repairs ($3.5 million) against the cost of demolition ($1 million) and that “the decision was not made lightly.” Saint Laurentius School will remain open.

St. Laurentius, beloved Polish church in Fishtown, to be demolished [The Inquirer]

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It’s the End of The Gallery as We Know It (and That’s a Shame)

Bob Laramie/Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Easter Bunny rides the escalator between events during the Easter parade at The Gallery in 1985. | Bob Laramie/Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

THE GALLERY DIDN’T have a Santa this year. It didn’t decorate for Christmas, either. I felt an odd sadness.

When I was a kid, my mom took me downtown every year on Black Friday. We’d stop at her offices at ARA Services, now Aramark, and then explore downtown. We went to the light show at Wanamaker’s, A Christmas Carol at Strawbridge’s and the Enchanted Village at the old Lit Brothers.

But the main attraction for me was The Gallery. I loved it — and not just because I’d usually come home with a new Lego set that day. Read more »

Morning Headlines: Is The Gallery Still on Track After Hostile Takeover Bid?

 

The Gallery has been all over the news lately. The beloved 2 Street Cafe closed its doors for good this past weekend and now comes word that Macerich, co-investor with PREIT in the redevelopment at The Gallery, shot down an attempted $16 billion hostile takeover bid by Simon Property Group, the largest mall operator in the nation.

The Associated Press is reporting that Simon, who recently renovated Franklin Mills into Philadelphia Mills, approached Macerich about the deal earlier this month. Macerich refused the deal, citing that it undervalued their company, wasn’t a good fit for their shareholders and could even violate antitrust laws. So does this power grab sidetrack the project at The Gallery?

After Simon made its bid for Macerich, PREIT spokeswoman Heather Crowell said the offer did not “change either the plans or the schedule for the redevelopment of the Gallery.”

Phew!

More headline action this way:

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Bloomingdale’s Is Officially Looking for Space in Center City

Screenshot 2015-03-05 at 2.07.30 PM

A clip from MSC Retail’s listing

An email sent by MSC Retail yesterday notes that Bloomingdale’s is “actively looking” for anywhere between 120,000-square-feet and 150,000-square-feet of space for a “full line” store within Center City. Reports back in 2013 said that the company was looking towards The Gallery as a possible option. Is that still the case? HughE Dillion of PhillyChitChat sure seems to think so.

Michael Salove, President and CEO of MSC Retail, told us in an email: “The only comment we can make regarding Bloomingdale’s full line store is that we are interested in Center City Philadelphia should the appropriate opportunity be sourced.  We cannot comment on location, timing, etc.” Read more »

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