Attention, Philadelphia shoppers! New York City-based Century 21 department store is coming to the former Strawbridges building this fall.
This, said Mayor Michael Nutter, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust CEO Joseph Coradino, is a big deal for East Market Street. Century 21 will be the first department store to open there in decades, and this development shows that “Philadelphia is hot,” Coradino said.
Century 21, which has eight retail locations in New York and New Jersey, will take up 100,000 square feet in the building, including 60,000 square feet on the ground level and the entire second floor. The remainder of the first floor will be filled with smaller retail and restaurants, Coradino said. The space has been vacant since 2006.
Coradino said PREIT began acquiring property around Market East about 10 years ago - it also has a long-term lease on The Gallery, which is owned by the city redevelopment authority. Back then, he said, Philadelphia was a rather hard sell. This isn't the case anymore, he said – not when Philadelphia has the 3rd largest center city population in the nation, and the biggest growth of any city in members of the millennial generation of young people.
Century 21 is “a high-end destination for fashion” and will be part of “creating a new retail experience on East Market street,” Coradino said. High on the retailer's website sits the slogan "Up to 65% off retail 100% of the time."
PREIT and Century 21 reached an agreement two days ago, but Coradino wouldn't detail the terms of the lease, including its duration. He said no incentives were given to attract the store. “Philadelphia is the incentive,” Nutter added. "Philadelphia is attracting outside investment, outside development and outside retailers."
"This is an exciting time for Century 21 Department Store and we’re looking forward to our move to Philly this fall," said Century 21 spokeswoman Caitlin Kelly in an email. PlanPhilly had hoped to talk to Century 21 about what convinced them Philadelphia was the next place they should be and other aspects of the move, but Kelly said further questions won't be taken until closer to opening.
The city and PREIT have for years talked about and announced plans to revive East Market Street and The Gallery. Greenberger said this new anchor will go a long way toward that, as Century 21 will attract more tenants to both the Strawbridge's building and The Gallery.
The Gallery will be down a big tenant later this year. Coradino confirmed that Kmart, one of the larger tenants, is leaving. That space will be divided into smaller stores, he said. Coradino indicated PREIT is talking to prospective tenants, but none he was willing to reveal yet.
When asked for more detail about the mix of small and large tenants he was seeking, Corradino said rather than do a big reveal all at once, PREIT was chosing to unveil new tenants project by project. He said changes are coming to the outside of the building as well.
Kellie Patrick Gates writes about planning, neighborhood development and the Central Delaware Waterfront. A journalist for more than two decades, she worked for daily newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and South Florida before coming to Philadelphia in 2003 to write for the Inquirer. Her work has appeared on PlanPhilly since 2007, and she also writes Love, the Inquirer's weekly wedding column. A native of Elk County, Pa., Kellie lives with her husband, Gary, and their dog and two cats.
Follow her on Twitter @KelliePGates