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Worlds Colliding: PREIT Signs 1776 To Lease For Incubator Space In Cherry Hill Mall

The changing retail landscape and the explosion of coworking have collided in South Jersey.

PREIT has signed coworking and incubator operator 1776 to an 11K SF lease in Cherry Hill Mall for what the latter is calling more of an incubator than a pure coworking location, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. It is the first lease 1776 has signed in a retail location, and the first coworking tenant PREIT has signed at any of its 21 malls. 1776 expects to the location to open in November.

Based in Philadelphia after a merger with Philly-based Benjamin's Desk, 1776 seeks to stand apart from the more straightforward coworking operators by focusing on building a network of entrepreneurs and collaborators with potential investors and/or partners. Originally founded in Washington, D.C., 1776 hopes to curate a mix of retail-focused endeavors in Cherry Hill and give them direct access to retailers and consumers for their ideas.

Calling the lease "a wave of the future," PREIT CEO Joe Coradino told the Inquirer that it speaks to the "complete transformation" of what tenants are acceptable within the mall ecosystem. The deal isn't quite the first of its kind, as Bespoke has operated a space within the Westfield San Francisco Centre since 2015, but it is on the bleeding edge of creative uses for otherwise tough-to-fill mall space.

The 1.3M SF Cherry Hill Mall, with its 96.5% occupancy, is among the three best-performing malls in the Greater Philadelphia area, along with the King of Prussia Mall and Christiana Mall in Newark, Delaware, giving PREIT the comfort level and the draw with potential tenants to test out such a concept, though Coradino told the Inquirer it is far from done.

“Coworking and business incubation will become a regular part of our business going forward,” Coradino said.