Will the Inquirer’s Move to Center City Help Reinvigorate Market East?

As Philly.com has self-referentially reported, the offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News are moving to 8th and Market Sts., to the former Strawbridge and Clothier building.

The new digs
From a distance

They will be downsizing dramatically, from 525K sqft at their longtime home in the Elverson Building at Broad and Callowhill Sts. to a mere 125K sqft on the third floor of the historic former department store at Market East. The future for the area surrounding their former home seems clear. Big-time developer Bart Blatstein has purchased their old HQ along with the former State Building up the street and will be redeveloping both, while PMC Property Group is in the process of reshaping the former Wilkie dealership and Biberman building into apartments and upscale restaurants. North Broad St., seemingly forgotten for decades, is on its way up.

The future is nebulous and the present unfortunate for Market East, an area that should, because of its close proximity to historic attractions, hotels, Reading Terminal Market, and the Convention Center, be a bustling center for locals and out-of-towners alike. Instead, it features a collection of underwhelming retail options on the south side of the street, and the Gallery mall, with its shops facing away from the street, ruining a few blocks on the north side. Despite its current depressed state, we’re somehow optimistic for the future here, and it seems that the decision-makers at the Inquirer agree.

Imagine six-hundred workers calling Market East home by next summer, representing new customers for area businesses and demanding higher quality establishments to meet their needs. As we wrote about a few months back, Girard Square could be redeveloped in the near future, and the project could potentially include a City Target. Once that is project is confirmed, it would be a sign to other developers to start moving on other underutilized buildings in the area. PREIT, owners of the Gallery and the Strawbridge’s building, would ostensibly see an opportunity to up the ante at the buildings they own. Inquirer Publisher and CEO Gregory Osberg hopes that the Inquirer and Daily News will be “part of a renaissance” at Market East. We hope so too.

So… who wants to rebuild Gimbel’s?

Image from Department Store Museum