Market East

A nice convenience for folks in the neighborhood

We've been dreaming of a Center City Target for many years and we're not alone. This makes sense- for many people, it's been a shlep to go to the Target locations in and around town, in South Philly, the Northeast, and on City Line Avenue. Five years ago, we were stoked to hear about possible plans for a three-story Target on the 1100 block of Market Street but it didn't end up working out in the end. That store would have been a CityTarget concept, with only about 80K sqft of space, compared to the 135K sqft seen at most Target locations.

Over the last year, we've learned that three Target locations will be opening up around town, with the first opening a couple weeks ago at 1128 Chestnut St., in part of the now-finished mixed-use project from Brickstone. Two more are coming soon at 19th & Chestnut and 20th & Pennsylvania. Just today, we set foot inside the new location on Chestnut Street and found a very pared down version of Target in the 19K sqft space.

Entrance on Chestnut Street

Though the main entrance sits on Chestnut Street, there's also a second entrance on Sansom Street. Don't be fooled by the parking lot next door though, that's only for building residents, not Target shoppers.

But why did they have to cover over the Oppenheim Collins sign?

The 1100 block of Chestnut Street has transformed in the last couple of years, mostly because of a large project from Brickstone on the south side of the block. This project got moving in earnest a couple of years ago, and has made quite a bit of progress in the year since our last visit. Now it looks like it's nearly finished.

Looking west on the 1100 block of Chestnut St., in the past
The new view on the block

In case you don't remember the details of the project, the developers bought up a bunch of properties on the block and demolished all but the former Oppenheim Collins department store, close to 12th Street. You can see, they've built a big new structure, and the project includes 115 apartments and 90K sqft of retail space, with the first Center City Target taking up about a quarter of that space. Last week, shared the news that the Target will open its doors on July 20th. We just pray (along with regular commuters) that the barriers that have blocked part of Chestnut Street for the last two years will be gone by then.

Not quite what they originally planned

The expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center wrapped up in 2011 and cost almost $800M; it's the largest public-works project in the history of the state. This effort stretched the Convention Center to North Broad Street and increased the size of the building by about 50%, ostensibly attracting larger conventions that couldn't be accommodated by the original space. The thought was that additional space would mean more conventions, more visitors, and more money in the City's coffers. Sadly, it hasn't really worked out that way.

Convention Center on Broad Street

Don't get us wrong, the Convention Center is improved. The Flower Show keeps getting bigger and better. The Auto Show was awesome this year. And it's true that the Convention Center is doing a better job of attracting and retaining large conventions than it did in the past. But it's just not proving to be enough, especially considering the cost of the expansion. And despite the improved performance, not a single convention has needed the entire million square feet of space available. So the Convention Center is taking on a permanent tenant in their banquet space closest to Broad Street, and that tenant is a laser tag company.

So much happening in Market East

Today, we're checking out some progress in Market East, a part of Center City seeing an absolute deluge of construction right now. We're all familiar with Market Street itself seeing a makeover with the “East Market” project and the Gallery redo (whenever it finally happens). South of Market Street, Brickstone Companies are staking their claim on the 1100 block of Chestnut with a project we most recently updated last year. That project is looking great on the outside and we have to really give Brickstone a hand for what looks like a well-designed mid-rise development that looks like it was always there, at least on the Chestnut Street frontage. Check it out:

Looking west on Chestnut Street

Brickstone looks like they're clustering their mixed-use project with a smaller one at 1108 Chestnut St., just a few doors down. This property is right next to the building that sadly lost its art deco facade a year and a half ago.

Large parking lot has been sold

Market East is getting another major development, thanks again to the efforts of Brickstone Companies. Years ago, this company was perhaps best known for their renovation of the Wanamaker Building on Market Street. But more recently, they've been actively involved in multiple projects in Market East. On the 1100 block of Chestnut Street, they're in the middle of a combination new construction/renovation project which will have 115 apartments and a bunch of retail, including a Target. They have plans to renovate the Sound of Market building into a mixed-use project with ground-floor retail and creative office space. And for their next trick, they've got plans for a parking garage at 12th & Sansom.

Current view at 12th & Sansom

If you consider the location, it's clear that this two-story garage is a major underuse. For decades, the property was owned by famous slumlord Samuel Rappaport, and late last year his estate sold the property to Brickstone for a hefty $14.45M. According to the Inquirer, the company is still figuring out their plan for the property, but they're considering building two towers on the site which could each rise over 300 feet. Options include residential, office use, hotel, and retail.