Former Gimbels Site at 9th and Chestnut Sold for Big Bucks

The enormous building, briefly the largest department store in the world, sells for $161 million.

833 Chestnut Street | Google Street View

833 Chestnut Street | Google Street View

A piece of Philadelphia history has been sold and chances are that you didn’t even notice. The 12-story addition to what was Gimbels at 9th and Chestnut traded hands for a handsome $161 million, according to a first quarter results report recently released by owners Digital Realty Trust. The building is instantly recognizable due to its ornate golden clock that seemingly floats above the corner.

Officially known as 833 Chestnut Street, the building contains 705,000 square-feet of space and Natalie Kostelni of the Philadelphia Business Journal reports that notable tenants include Jefferson and a few data centers. Interestingly enough, the building was purchased by HCP Inc., a trust specializing in “health-care oriented properties,” reports Kostelni.

There is a fascinating history about the building. Built in 1927 as the massive expansion to the original Philadelphia location of Gimbels at 9th and Market, the addition of the new building essentially gave them the entire block from Market Street to Chestnut Street, 8th to 9th. According to Hidden City, that gave Gimbels the brief distinction of being largest department store in the world, even if most of it was office space.

A few of Philly’s “Big Six” department stores have been making the news lately. The iconic Wanamaker Building, now Macy’s, was put on the market in late April and could fetch upwards of $200 million. As you’re probably well aware, we now have digital signage atop the beautiful Lit Bros. Building on nearby Market Street. Even Snellenburg’s has gotten a little shine recently due to a ghost sign and a not-so-little development called East Market. Clearly, times change, just look at the gigantic surface parking lot at the corner of 8th and Market, for example.

Want to travel back in time a bit? The Department Store Museum has a old school drawing of the building and a breakout of the department on each floor of both the Chestnut Street building and Market Street location. (Hint: You’ll find us at Uncle Wip’s Toyland.)

Center City building sells for $161M [Philadelphia Business Journal]