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Retail REIT Plans Mixed-Use Redevelopment Of South Philly Shopping Center

Riverview Plaza in the Pennsport neighborhood of South Philadelphia

Another retail center in the Philadelphia area is getting a mixed-use redevelopment.

New York-based Cedar Realty Trust is planning a multiphase redevelopment of Riverview Plaza that will introduce a multifamily component, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. A shopping center featuring a Regal Cinemas-owned movie theater along South Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Riverview Plaza was built in the 1980s by Bart Blatstein as part of his conversion of the former industrial corridor in Pennsport into a series of big-box retail centers. Blatstein sold the parcel to Cedar in 2003.

Cedar President and CEO Bruce Schanzer told analysts during the REIT's third-quarter earnings call that the redevelopment will likely begin in the second half of this year and take seven to 10 years across three phases to complete. The first two phases will involve the construction of 260 apartments and 125K SF of retail, some of which will be at the ground floor of at least two multifamily buildings.

The plaza sits on two parcels split by Reed Street, each containing buildings that face their parking lots. The south parcel includes the theater and a historically designated former firehouse, which Cedar plans to preserve and use for retail. One residential building is planned for each side of Reed, each with its own courtyard and pool, according to plans obtained by the Inquirer. The plans also call for 9,200 SF of office space that would appear to replace jazz restaurant warmdaddy's.

The project will include a $12M revamp of the UA Riverview Plaza theater, introducing luxury seating and 4D presentations that could include moving seats, additional lighting and even water sprays. The remainder of the incoming retail will focus on dining, further entertainment and some small shops, according to Cedar executives during the earnings call.

Cedar's redevelopment would be its third overall and second in Philly, following its massive overhaul (also including residential) of what it calls South Quarter Crossing in Southwest Philadelphia. In August, Cedar announced plans for a similar mixed-use revamp of a shopping center in Northeast Washington, D.C., called East River Park. Cedar is but one of several retail REITs adding multifamily and mixed-use parcels to its shopping center holdings. Private developer BET Investments has done the same with two such redevelopments in the Philly suburbs.

CORRECTION, JAN. 8, 3:40 P.M. ET: A previous version of this article misstated South Quarter Crossing's name and incorrectly stated that Bart Blatstein received shares of Cedar Realty Trust in exchange for Riverview Plaza. A later transaction between the two parties traded property for shares. This article has been updated.