The Laurel, the new residential, mixed-use tower on the north side of Rittenhouse Square, will soon be home to an exciting restaurant, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. A new Mediterranean concept will be coming from restaurateur Michael Schulson, with former Kanella chef Konstantinos Pitsilledes taking the reins. Knowing that this new dining option will be joining the high-end Equinox Fitness here at 1911 Walnut St., we began once again to think about Rittenhouse retail strolls on a warm, sunny afternoon, and we know there should be some more new options in the near future.

1600 Walnut St. on the far left, with decals in the windows back in the fall

Thanks to submissions to the Sign Committee of the Art Commission, we know that several other changes are afoot along one of the prime retail and commercial corridors in the region. We’ll continue along to the east of the Laurel, where the historic storefront at 1608 Walnut St. is set to undergo quite the change. After visiting this building in the fall when it was announced that Pierce College will be making their new home on the upper floors of the building, we noticed the Modell’s storefront looking a bit ragged as it searched for a new ground-floor tenant. It appears that yoga apparel company Alo will be taking over the main floor, creating a streamlined look for this ornate building. We hope that this new design also comes with a thorough power-washing.

The Laurel on Rittenhouse Square, soon home to an Equinox and a new Mediterranean concept
The former Modell's spot as it looked back in October

Just a few steps to the east, there are plans for the corner property at 1600 Walnut St., as well. There have long been decals in the windows advertising the coming Faherty Brand store, and now we have plans to show off the design. While the change isn’t exactly dramatic, it will be wonderful having active commercial space again along this key corner along Rittenhouse Row.

An idea of the future look at the corner, where Faherty will soon sit
From Walgreens to a two-story Insomnia Cookies at One South Broad

We’re technically jumping neighborhoods into Market East for our visit to One South Broad, but we’re giving ourselves a bit of flexibility here. What was once a Walgreens (and before that a Barnes and Noble) is getting a very different tenant, with Insomnia Cookies expanding their Philly empire and opening up a three-story “experiential” space, which will feature some pretty snazzy murals in the windows. This should be a great draw for families making their way into Center City and give a different sort of energy to the area immediately around City Hall.

The familiar Merriam Theater sign, courtesy of Visit Philly

The final stop today takes us back to the west side of the Avenue of the Arts to 250 S. Broad St., where the former Merriam Theater is undergoing a major change. Now called the Miller Theater after a generous donation, the new signage will look familiar, though we imagine that more than a few folks will do a double-take as they walk by.

Renderings show day and night views of the future Miller Theater entrance

Despite all the challenges facing the city, there seems to be no stopping the appeal of the Rittenhouse area. The more storefronts that are filled, the more reason people have to visit and shop, creating a positive feedback loop that should hopefully continue into the future as Center City gets its legs back post-pandemic. We never need much reason to explore the city, but having a few more places to stop (to grab a cookie or catch a show) certainly isn’t a bad thing.