The bottom of Abbotts Square on the 200 block of South Street has mystified us of late. Most of the little stores on the block's north side have closed or moved in the last year, which has come on the heels of Chef's Market shrinking to a catering operation called Chef's Table. A few years ago, we heard rumors of a restaurant/banquet hall with live music coming to the block, but nothing seems to have come of those plans. But recently a reader tipped us off that a big new tenant is coming soon, explaining why the block looks so desolate at the moment.

Closed stores

Shuttered Citi branch at the corner

According to a flyer from Legend Properties, New York based Garden of Eden is set to take over a giant retail space covering two-thirds of the block. The store, according to their website, "is a culinary Mecca for savvy shoppers who demand the finest products and ingredients at the best prices." So, uh,  that sounds pretty good. We're ballparking here, but it looks like they'll be taking a roughly 20K sqft space for their first location outside of the New York area. It should be fascinating to watch them try to adapt to the Philadelphia market.

Future commercial plans

As you can see in the plan above, Garden of Eden is taking over the block, though Rita's is staying and Supercuts is moving to a new location in the same building. Two spaces remain available on the block, including the former Hats in the Belfry corner space that's been empty for a couple of years now. Perhaps the new market will spur other businesses to take the remaining vacant spaces.

Will Garden of Eden be a hit in this area? Looking at their website, it seems like they have a mix of necessities and gourmet items that could entice people who live nearby to skip the shlep to Whole Foods or Superfresh. On the other hand, it's possible that people could pooh-pooh the place if it misses the mark and has too much of a New York vibe to it. On the other other hand, people sure seemed to embrace Shake Shack. Stay tuned on this one folks- it's still many months away. If it's well done, it could be a big win for the area. If not, then surely something else will eventually come along to take its place.