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Market East retailers have access to $1 billion in annual consumer demand: report

The Center City District reported that $815 million in investments could revitalize the historic commercial corridor.
A rendering of the inside of the forthcoming Philadelphia Fashion District redesign of the Gallery mall at Market East. (Courtesy of PREIT)

Despite some signs of life in the Market East area around Jefferson Station, it remains at present a desolate intersection girded with concrete barriers.

But its future could be bright.

The planned $325 million redesign for 730,000 square feet of the Gallery Mall, including a new movie theater, is due to wrap up in August 2018.

And it will be joined with five other developments east of Broad Street that bring the total investment to $815 million, the Center City District (CCD) said in a report released Wednesday.

"Limited space and strong demand from brands seeking to enter the Center City market have led to retailers locating beyond Rittenhouse Square," CCD wrote in the report, which found that 60 national retailers have added Center City locations since 2013. "While Center City is feeling the pressures that impact all retailers globally, occupancy on prime retail corridors in Center City remains a healthy 95.5 percent, sustained by downtown’s desirable demographic, rich in highly-educated millennials and affluent empty nesters."

Projections for Philly's population increase, ongoing tourist trade and steady spending by the roughly 292,746 people employed in Center City (plus about 8,500 freelancers/self-employed) are contributing to developers' optimism.

The December 2017 report by Center City District and Central Philadelphia Development Corp. found that the area has an "annual retail demand" of $1 billion. They say that out of 992 retailers in Center City, 76 percent are boutique/independent/local shops.

Developer PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust), says that after construction is completed along Market, 11th, 10th, 9th, and Filbert streets, the Gallery, to be renamed Philadelphia Fashion District, will be "offering a fusion of outlet and flagship retail along with specialized dining experiences" from new ground-level retail, digital signs, and a glass entrance.

The other new investments in the Market East area include $350 million of investment on Market between 10th and 11th streets, $25 million of investment for The Curtis and plans for re-imagining the ground floor of One Washington Square at 5th and Walnut to be more pedestrian-friendly.

Read the full report at centercityphila.org.