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What is Happening to The Gallery?

space-and-company-the-galleryBY STEVE DRABKOWSKI (www.steve.searchphillylistings.com)
 
A few months ago this would have been a space filled with people. Office workers and commuters getting a quick bite, seniors visiting with friends, teens hanging out. Now the Gallery food court is empty of vendors, tables and customers.
 
For some months now there has been a gradual vanishing act at the Gallery Mall on Market Street. I first noticed this when my go-to Chinese and Indian places on the lower level were shuttered one day. Then other places started to go, the watch repair and jewelry kiosks vanished. Other stores closed with little notice, including the bookstore, the vitamin place and others.
 
So, what is going on? Pennsylvania Real Estate Trust (PREIT), the owner of the Gallery Mall is starting on a long over due refurbishing of the Mall. Long term tenants are not having their leases renewed as the spaces are cleared out. Now, much of the lower level is almost empty. This is the start of a long term renovation of the entire mall, and renovations will take several years to complete
 
What no one seems to know, is just what is planned for the Gallery. PRIET is not forthcoming with much information about it’s plans. Since this is going to be a multi –year project, commuters are concerned about access to the Market Frankford line and Jefferson/ Market East Stations. The concourse at 11th Street is a very popular transfer point between the two. There are surface entrances to both, but it would be nice to have an idea of what is going to happen.
 
There is a lot of high end development planned for this end of Market Street, and it is time to update the Gallery spaces. What worked in the 80’s now looks dated and worn. A common complaint is that the street level on Market Street is a vast expanse of blank and forbidding wall. Having stores that opened on to the street would go a long way to making the place seem less fortress like.
 
As of now, it seems that no real concept has been announced. There is vague mention of the possibility of “Fast Fashion” shops, a multiplex cinema, updated food court, but nothing solid. Properly renovated, the Gallery could be a great attraction to both Philadelphians and visitors from all over the world. The location is unbeatable and the connections to transit are enviable compared to suburban malls.
 
I would like to see the Gallery be developed into a true destination type mall. I think we could have something unique and popular if done properly. The potential is there, but is the vision?

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