Developer takes another stab at project on Market Street East

The high-volume intersection has stubbornly remained surface parking lots

Steve Tawa
June 20, 2018 - 5:18 pm

KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A developer is paying a pretty penny for a parking lot at Eighth and Chestnut streets. Combined with another surface lot next door, it's the last big chunk of land along Market Street East for development. 

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is selling the lot to the Blue Bell-based developer Goldenberg Group for more than $24 million. 

PPA Executive Director Scott Petri describes the sale price as "significantly in excess of the appraised value." 

"The developer is willing to pay more because it substantially enhances the value and use of their property," Petri said.

The lot is adjacent to the 300-space lot at Eighth and Market streets — the site of the former Gimbels department store, long held by Goldenberg. 

"We've always been fascinated by this intersection. It's one of the most significant in the city," said Goldenberg Group Chief Operating Officer Seth Shapiro. "It was probably the epicenter of commerce in the whole area [in the early 1900s]. You had Strawbridge's, Gimbels and Lit Brothers. Gimbels, at one point, may have been the largest department store in the world."

Shapiro said with the land in place, Goldenberg will evaluate how to develop the site with a "significant project."

"You clearly want retail and entertainment on the ground level so that there's excitement for pedestrians," he said, "but you also need density, like towers, to include some combination of residential and office, so that you're adding population that can add vitality to the whole corridor."

Shapiro added that a big selling point is that the site sits between Independence Mall and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, so the draw is a commercial corridor next to a historical area.  

He said potential retail, entertainment, residential and office partners are watching the progress of the nearby East Market and The Gallery redevelopment projects.

"They're watching to see what the velocity of the leasing is and what the quality of the leasing is," Shapiro continued. "Once those projects stabilize, this would be the next domino to fall as the experience moves down Market Street."

At the same site in the 1990s, Goldenberg Group contemplated an entertainment and retail site called DisneyQuest, which never happened. Then in 2014, it moved on to the unsuccessful Market8 casino project.