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Retail Gets Creative

Philadelphia Retail

Reconfiguration of space in creative ways is changing the face of retail, says Metro Commercial Real Estate prez Steve Gartner, an expert panelist at our upcoming Retail Summit (Feb. 26 at The Rittenhouse).

The continued lag in new construction combined with convergence of competitors (whether big box stores like Target or online powerhouses like Amazon) has caused big changes--for one, a seismic shift in the supermarket industry, which confounds developers’ expectations. Where supermarkets used to anchor retail plazas, today they can be found in big malls or as standalone developments, like Wegman’s. (That must explain why no one's clothes fit anymore.) Still, they remain solid investments for buyers with decent credit and looking to clear the entry barriers to high-performing locations. That applies as well to Target, which also carries grocieries and produce. The first-ever Target to open in King of Prussia will occupy a unique space at the remodeled Valley Forge Shopping Center, with a parking garage underneath the store.

Meanwhile, Center City will get its first Cheesecake Factory when a brand new space (rendered by Apple Store vets Bohlin Cywinski Jackson) goes up at 15th and Walnut. (We'll be happy to test it out for you all.) Uniquely, the franchise will be on the second floor instead of at street level; Metro Commercial is marketing the remaining 30k SF on all three floors. Steve also sees reconfiguration for the better at existing malls like the Gallery at Market East, where PREIT is expected to usher in an upgrade of tenants this year. Back in the 'burbs, Moorestown Mall is getting an AMC Theaters multiplex and wildly welcomed restaurants like the just-opened Marc Vetri's Osteria, and a King of Prussia Mall expansion will connect The Court and The Plaza into one building.

We asked Steve for something to take our minds off of driving in the snow, and he obliged, sending along this shot of himself on a cycling tour in Italy over the summer. Even on vacation, this professed “retail nerd” was taking notes on the boutique fashion stores and espresso bars. (Alas, our minds are now stuck on the Phillies. Until next year, folks, 'til next year...)