Market East

Let freedom drink

Do you regularly visit the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall and find yourself wishing there was a place for outdoor drinking nearby? Like, a huge space for outdoor drinking? And maybe some nosh, too? We have some good news today, as we just learned that we're about to get a new beer garden in this neck of the woods.

Current view

According to a press release, Independence Beer Garden will be opening this summer at 100 Independence Hall West, at the southwest corner of 6th & Market. The project comes from Michael Schulson, who owns Sampan in Midtown Village, and will include 20,000 sqft of outdoor beer garden goodness. The menu will trend American, and forty taps will offer a selection of craft beers. Look for communal tables, fire pits, and a selection of games. Sounds like a less German, more centrally located Frankford Hall, no? Design work was done by Groundswell Design Group, the guys behind the awesome Spruce Street Harbor Park.

And we don't just mean linguistically

Remember in 2011, when we told you about plans for the redevelopment of Girard Square, and that the developers were targeting Target as their lead tenant? Remember how excited we were by this possibility? Remember how nothing has happened with this project since?

Proposed in 2011

Today, we learned about East Market, a new proposal from National Real Estate Advisors for the entire block encompassed by Market, Chestnut, 11th, and 12th Streets. It's considerably more ambitious than the previous project that brought so much excitement, so it stands to reason that everyone should be pretty much flipping out about it. Check out this rendering, from BLT Architects, of basically the same perspective as the image above:

Huge deal for Market East if it happens

Even though few notable things have happened development-wise on east Market Street in recent years, it still somehow feels like the area is picking up momentum. This is probably due to the collection of different, possibly game-changing plans on the table. But if one of them were to come to fruition, we believe the dominoes could start to tumble on this still rough stretch of Center City blocks. Will the Gallery finally undergo the renovation it so badly needs to reorient the mall to look outward to Market Street? Will the old Strawbridge's find a destination retail tenant? Will Market8 be selected as Philadelphia's second casino, leading to the construction of a huge new building on the corner of 8th & Market? Will the Girard Square building get demolished and replaced with something new and shiny? Or how about the newest addition to the fray, a proposed residential tower for the Lit Brothers Building?

Kmart's dissolving

Back in 2012, PREIT purchased  901 Market St., a building which is part of the Gallery Mall and most prominently has been home to Kmart for many years. When we first told you about this story, we expressed optimism that this purchase could finally signal a change we've been craving for years at the Gallery, as PREIT became the primary property owner for most of the properties that compose this less-than-perfect urban shopping mall. We also mentioned that a plan to turn the mall inside out, with stores opening onto Market Street, would be announced. Clearly, such a plan would come at considerable expense but would completely transform the pedestrian experience on Market Street and open up the mall to a giant new potential customer base.

Yesterday, a reader gave us the heads up about a zoning application for 1118 Chestnut St. that made our hearts flutter with excitement. Haven't been here lately? Well, it's probably even worse than you remember. Vacancy lines the south side of the street, with shuttered businesses and several blighted buildings lined up in a row. But that all stands to change if developers get what they seek at the ZBA.

This is awful

According to the application, some of the buildings above will soon be demolished. The plan here, as we understand it, is to combine the properties pictured above and "demolish a six story and five story portion," and then to build a seven story addition that rises over a hundred feet in the air. In the building will be commercial space on the first and second floor, and eighty apartments on the third through sixth floors. What will happen on the seventh floor is beyond us, maybe mechanicals?