The Gallery at Market East 2.0

Sweet artist image | Courtesy of PREIT


Maybe you have heard some of the recent chatter about reinventing The Gallery, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, I hope to provide you all with some value in this post; which by the way, is my 300th Blog Post on (hard to believe that one, folks).

Okay, a little Gallery history to start.

The Gallery at Market East was built in 1977, and was designed to be a suburban-esque solution for city residents, workers, and visitors. Cities were struggling back then, and suburban towns were booming; all across the US. People loved their malls (as many people still do today); it was also the prime shopping solution for every Greater Philadelphia suburban enclave. A good mall made your little town cool (e.g. King of Prussia, Willow Grove Park, etc).

With Center City’s retail environment struggling to survive in the 70s and 80s, the City of Philadelphia made a huge attempt to bring suburban shoppers back downtown. Hence, they built a 4 story behemoth of an urban mall to compete with neighboring suburban areas, and so The Gallery was born.

Growing up in the suburbs, my parents used to take my 3 siblings and me into Center City every year for the Christmas Light Show (formerly known as Wanamaker’s, now known as Macy’s) and Dickens Village. We would all hop on the train in Jenkintown, and cruise down to Market East in 30+ minutes. Market East is located at the bottom of The Gallery, which back then was considered the “cool city mall” to us suburban folk. It was an awesome tradition, and one that I still continue to honor annually during the holiday season in Philadelphia.

Fast-forward almost 40 years from The Gallery’s start, and look what has changed.

Center City’s retail scene went from sluggish to dynamic, our restaurant/entertainment scene is now considered to be one of the finest in the US, and the population of people living downtown just keeps growing. So needless to say, The Gallery could use a fresh look that appeals to today’s consumer; as it takes up a good amount of valuable downtown real estate.

So as to not build up any more suspense, The Gallery 2.0 wants to reinvent itself as the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia!


I’m not saying that this project won’t be great, because it has already drawn the attention of Mario Batali + Joe Bastianich’s Eataly (as a potential anchor restaurant), but the name could definitely use some work.

As for my own professional opinion, I believe the reinvention of The Gallery might be better suited as a mixed-use development rather than just a shopping/dining destination. By mixed-use, I mean it could have a retail component, an office component, and a residential component that take advantage of its location. The Gallery is located in one of the most convenient spots in all of Philadelphia, it has access to all forms of public transportation, and the Market East neighborhood is only going to get bigger and better in the years to come (Hello, East Market et al).

Don’t get me wrong, outlet stores can be great. Higher end merchandise, lower end prices; but I think the name is a little weak.

How about a name that sounds more like…

Central Market

City Centre PHL

Market East Place

Please take these ideas with a grain of salt, as I’m just doing a bit of brainstorming here. I am by no means a retail expert.

Please also note that I am not displeased with the idea for Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia, I just think the parties involved (that includes you, City of Philadelphia) could put a little more thought into the long-term effect of a project this big and important to Philadelphia’s urban core.

Will outlets be as popular as they are 10 years from now?

Will fashion still be the primary retail option at Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia 20 years from now?

These are some of the reasons why I feel the name should be revisited (even though I know “Fashion Outlets” is a brand unto itself, and part of the reason why it is being named as such). A name says a lot, and this development’s name will hold quite a bit of weight for Center City in the years to come.

What are your thoughts?

The DNC is coming to Philadelphia, and our city is ready for the attention

Sweet graphic provided by

Sorry to beat the proverbial “DNC dead horse” again, but what can I say, it’s big news for Philadelphia!

There have been countless articles, blog posts, and tweets about the Democratic National Convention choosing Philadelphia as its host city in 2016 (Sorry, Brooklyn, NY + Columbus, OH).

But rather than make this the same-old, same-old post about how awesome the exposure will be for our great city, I’d rather focus on what it means for locals: 1) Growing skyline, 2) Transportation improvements, and 3) Social scene. Just by having the DNC come to town means that shovel ready projects, as well as those already in progress, will get higher priority than they did before the announcement was made.

Might I also add that all 3 of those previously mentioned elements are important/related to real estate, which makes this particular post even more appropriate.

See … part of the reason the Dems picked Philadelphia (aside from us being the city that gave birth to liberty and freedom … oh, and the fact that our city is awesome), is that they saw what we all currently see: opportunity.

That’s the American dream, right? D*mn straight it is.

Okay, let’s get started.

In typical fashion, I’m going to break down my favorite points from this Philadelphia Magazine article (you can find more great articles on Twitter, @phillymag):

– The Changing Skyline: Of course, this one is the easiest one for me to talk about seeing that real estate is my profession. Plus, I just enjoy talking about new development in Philly. Projects like the FMC Tower and the new Mormon Temple should both be completed by the time the DNC rolls into the city, but unfortunately, the Comcast Center for Innovation + Technology will not be up yet; bummer. For the FMC Tower especially, it will definitely represent itself well as the largest Philadelphia skyscraper west of the Schuylkill River.

– How the Dems will get around: This one specifically addresses the strides Philadelphia is making not only toward its public transportation infrastructure, but also toward its bicycling culture (which we are tops in regularly). For SEPTA, the long-awaited SEPTA Key program should be fully operational on all Philadelphia buses, subways, and trolleys; but most likely, not on trains come DNC time. Also, Philadelphia’s bike share system (now being referred to as Indego) will be in full rent-a-bike mode for the DNC. Lastly, Uber will most likely be the taxi of choice. I mean seriously, it’s just too easy, for both tourists and locals alike.

– Hillary at The Gallery?: I used to visit The Gallery as a kid; it was the “city mall” to us suburban folk. As the 90s and 00s passed, the mall became less cool and more unappealing; but its new image is already starting to change. With all of the recent press The Gallery has received, I can almost guarantee that visitors will want to do some “I’m on vacation” shopping at Philadelphia’s version of Century 21 (which just recently took up about 100K sq ft of space at The Gallery). Lots of positive changes are coming to one of the largest urban malls in the US, and the investors/city are just getting started on its transformation.

So as you can see, I really believe that Philadelphia will shine brightly on the DNC’s international stage come July 2016.

From one local to other locals, our city deserves it.

Why so much buzz lately about Market East?

PREIT’s rendering of the new Gallery at Market East

The Market East section of Philadelphia that is, not the regional transportation hub.

Maybe it’s just me, but almost everywhere I look in the local media these days, people are buzzing about Market East.

Some of those discussion topics, over the last year or so:

Girard Square

The Gallery

Market8 Casino

Times Square-esque Digital Signage

Everyone is talking, and for good reason. Out of all the original Center City neighborhoods (Logan Square/Circle, Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, Society Hill, and Old City), Market East (or Center City East) is really the only one left with copious amounts of potential.

All of the others have already been redeveloped, or are in the process of.

The reason I found this story so blog-worthy, was because of that aforementioned potential. Center City has become so prominent/noticeable in Philadelphia’s comeback story, that it has literally spawned an entire army of coveted neighborhoods.

Graduate Hospital

Passyunk Square + East Passyunk





Northern Liberties


The #1 reason why these varying and unique neighborhoods have caught fire within the local real estate market, is because of Center City’s success (and University City’s too, if you want to get technical).

Original Center City has become expensive and is short on supply, which is why the spillover demand has landed in these neighborhoods. In reality, there was really no where else to go but to follow the concentric circles.

Now, it’s not just because of CC + UC that Philadelphia has changed so much over the last 20+ years.



East Falls

Chestnut Hill

Mount Airy



As you can now see, the demand is spreading all over town, into historic neighborhoods, and for different reasons. Main Streets, universities, small businesses, networking groups, night markets, food trucks, and everything in between.

Market East may currently be the trendiest name in town, but it sure is not the last.