In a sweeping $500 million-plus project aimed at finally upgrading Philadelphia’s worn downtown retail district and spreading Center City’s apartment revival east of Broad Street, a development group says it plans to demolish a modest block of stores on Market Street between 11th and 12th, and eventually level or renovate the rest of the block down to Chestnut Street, in favor of a new retail/residential complex.
"We’re going to have grocers, we’re going to have restaurants, entertainment, fashion," said Jeff Kanne, chief executive of National Real Estate Advisors (NREA), a $2.2 billion-asset, Washington-based firm that counts the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other unions as investors. "All the tenants have been terminated, and we expect to knock that building down in July," Kanne said Tuesday of the 1100 block of Market Street, former site of the N. Snellenburg & Co. department store and currently home to a dollar store and electronics, clothing, and jewelry shops.
Planned are two new store buildings facing Market Street that will be topped by 325 apartments with parking underground. Builders also will strip and replace the outside walls of the eight-story former Snellenburg warehouse facing 11th Street, now used by the city’s Family Court. The developers are talking to office tenants, but could end up putting more apartments there, said Pete Soens of Philadelphia developer and landlord SSH Real Estate, an East Market investor.
Retail stores are planned for the first floor of the nearby 12-story Girard office building, with the upper floors upgraded for office, hotel, or apartments, depending on “market demand,” said Daniel Killinger, director at NREA Development Services.
If the initial space sells well, the group plans to replace buildings in the 1100 block of Chestnut Street with new stores and apartments - bringing the residential count for the entire project to as many as 1,000 units, Killinger said.
McDevitt Co., a retail real estate agency whose clients include the chains owned by South Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters Inc., is in charge of signing new stores. The architect for the project is BLT, whose recent efforts include two University City high-rises. Service alleys on Ludlow and Clover Streets will be opened to through traffic, the developers said Tuesday, and a walkway stretched from opposite the Convention Center’s Reading Terminal entrance on Market Street to Chestnut, linking historic neighborhoods south and east.