Last summer, the historic mansion at 1801 Walnut St. went up for sale, and there was speculation that long-time tenant Anthropologie could be on the outs. When we heard about this, we wondered 1) what new location could possibly serve the store's needs as effectively as their current home, and 2) what store could successfully take over the space, which is not without its challenges despite its extremely desirable location.
The building itself has some interesting history, as you might imagine. According to the Preservation Alliance, It was constructed right before the turn of the 20th century, by Sarah Drexel Fell. She inhabited the mansion, along with her husband Alexander Van Rensselaer, for roughly three decades. After they passed, the building was used by the Pennsylvania Athetic Club rowing association, and for the last few decades it has housed Urban Outfitters and then Anthropologie. The building was designed by Peabody and Sterns in the Beaux Arts style, and still looks wonderful after nearly a hundred and twenty years.
Last week, the story came out that Anthropologie will be staying at this corner for years to come. They've reupped their lease for ten more years at what we would imagine is a considerably higher rate than the $14/foot rent they're paying under their current lease. According to Philly.com (and common sense), the new lease would seem to make the sale of the property an easier proposition. With a very stable tenant locked in for the next dozen years or more, the new owner will have plenty of security that their investment will pay a predictable rate of return. And when you're dropping $35-40M, you're probably looking for just a dash of security. At least we are, when we're making those kinds of investments.