Pulse: Chatter: The Internets: If They Build It

Can a website lure retailers to the city?

When, last fall, the Philadelphia Retail Marketing Alliance made its debut, it finally seemed as if retail in this city was catching up with the condo and restaurant boom. The new initiative of the Center City District (and other local organizations) is a one-stop shop for local and national retailers looking to open in the city, something that was previously — and somewhat unbelievably — nonexistent in Philly. And the best part of the project is undoubtedly the PRMA website, Philadelphiaretail.com — clever, attractive, and designed to appeal to potential retailers (Hey, Apple, you listening?) by connecting interested parties with relevant brokers, vacancies, and detailed descriptions of each so-called retail neighborhood: Rittenhouse (“uptown and upscale”), Washington Square (“square in name only”), Parkway Museums (“picture perfect”), Convention Center (“unconventionally diverse”), Old City (“everything old is new again”), South Street (“offbeat and always on”).

“There was such a need to have a single portal,” says PRMA point person Michelle Shannon. “We’ve already been connecting brokers from outside Philly to brokers here.” It’s a brilliant idea, but we couldn’t help but notice — a few neighborhoods that could really use a little retail revival are missing. Where’s the love for Strawberry Mansion (“not what it sounds like”), the Northeast (“where the sweatsuit is always au courant”) and South Philly (“just don’t move that cone”)?