Is There Really Going to Be a Retail Revival at The Gallery?
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).
As for retailers, The Inquirer reports that none have signed on yet, but they are looking for “lower-cost outlets of high-end clothing retailers, brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Burberry. Other stores would be familiar mall stalwarts similar to H&M.”
A press release detailing the plans notes the participation of PREIT’s partner, Macerich. This makes sense: Macerich is the mall owner/developer behind the Fashion Outlets of Chicago, a two-level indoor mall that houses over 130 outlet stores, from mid-range standards (Banana Republic, J.Crew, H&M, Gap) to high-end brands (Burberry, Armani, AllSaints, Moncler, Prada and Halston).
While I think Philly really needs a high-end, full-line department store anchor, it’s tough to resist the appeal of a good outlet mall. (I think of myself as a champion bargain-hunter, and I’ve found great gems among the racks of Off Fifth and Last Call at
Franklin Mills Philadelphia Mills.) Could it be great? Sure. But hedging your bets on an outlet mall is dangerous, as they can so quickly go south. (See, well, Philadelphia Mills.) Once the white-tiled sheen wears off, it could be The Gallery, part 2, only this time with better windows and more light. They’ll need a healthy mix of top-range brands (Prada, Burberry, Armani) to lure in devoted King of Prussia mall shoppers and keep it feeling high-end, and enough mid-range mall stalwarts to sustain it. Because the only thing worse than The Gallery right now is, well, a Franklin Mills in its place.
To see more renderings and find out more about the development scale and timeframe, click here.