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Franklin Mills Mall Changes Name to Philadelphia Mills, Starts Year-Long Renovations

19 Sep 2014, 1:01 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Philadelphia Mills mall - main entrance

Philadelphia Mills mall – main entrance

Franklin Mills, Greater Philadelphia’s largest retail destination after King of Prussia, is getting a facelift and a new name as part of a multi-million dollar renovation, the mall’s owner announced recently.

Dubbed “the mall of them all” when it opened in May 1989, Franklin Mills has rapidly grown into a veritable shopping mecca, employing more than 2,500 residents in the Philadelphia area and generating millions of dollars in yearly revenues for the city. Located at 1455 Franklin Mills Circle, at the intersection of Woodhaven Road/Pennsylvania State Route 63 and Knights Road in Northeast Philadelphia, the 1.8-million-square-foot mall includes more than 200 stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nike Factory Store and Ann Taylor Factory Store. It is divided into four neighborhoods: Red, Blue, Yellow and Green and has six main entries. A new Super Walmart store which is scheduled to open by end of September will add nearly 180,000 square feet to the shopping venue.

According to Simon Property Group, the Indianapolis-based company that acquired the mall in 2007, Franklin Mills has already been renamed Philadelphia Mills to announce the multimillion renovation project. “This center has served the shopping and entertainment needs of the Philadelphia region for more than 25 years, and we are excited to continue

Philadelphia Mills Mall - interior rendering

Philadelphia Mills Mall – interior rendering

meeting those needs while elevating the experience for our customers and visitors,” said in a press release Gregg Goodman, president of The Mills.

Construction is already underway on exterior renovations of the mall and work is expected to be completed this fall. As for interior renovations, work is scheduled to begin in early 2015, with the mall’s grand re-opening celebration slated for fall 2015. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, renovations at Philadelphia Mills will include new landscaping, improved skylights, lighting and floors, new lounge areas, and the addition of tech amenities such as WiFi and device-charging stations.


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Renderings via Philadelphia Mills

Drexel Launches RFP for Revolutionary Innovation Neighborhood in University City

11 Sep 2014, 2:05 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Drexel Innovation Neighborhood rendering

Drexel Innovation Neighborhood rendering

As city authorities across the country try to boost business investment and encourage companies to relocate or consolidate their local footprint, a new economic development concept is taking shape. It’s called “innovation district” and it promotes the exact opposite idea of the Silicon Valley office park model: instead of having an isolated corporate campus located outside the city, local authorities—along with universities or big employers—are now looking to revitalize neglected areas within city limits and turn them into neighborhoods where professionals can live and work.

Just like Boston, with its Innovation District, Philadelphia will have its own Innovation Neighborhood spanning 10 acres of underdeveloped real estate in the University City area. Drexel University is reportedly on the lookout for a master developer to share the university’s vision to create a transit-oriented community in a mix of education, research, retail, hospitality and residential spaces.

Envisioned as a revolutionary “Learn/Work/Live/Share” development, the proposed Innovation Neighborhood would be located next to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and at the threshold between University City and Center City, with access to the city’s most important centers of activity.

JLL was selected to help Drexel in its quest to identify a master developer for the multi-billion project. According to the RFP, at full build out, Drexel’s Innovation Neighborhood would encompass more than 5 million square feet of mixed-use space that will be anchored by the University.

“Innovation Neighborhood represents an unprecedented opportunity for a private developer to obtain development rights in the mostly institutionally controlled University City,” said Mark Seltzer, JLL senior vice president of Development Advisory Services, in a press statement.

Drexel Innovation Neighborhood map

Drexel Innovation Neighborhood map

More specifically, Drexel’s massive development project calls for national and international corporate partners seeking to attract the pool of academic and professional talent from Drexel. Furthermore, the Innovation Neighborhood will serve as a hub for start-ups by creating educational, employment and other opportunities for Philadelphia residents. The proposed neighborhood will include market-rate and student housing options in response to the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as street-level retail spaces that are expected to enliven the project’s major buildings and create pedestrian corridors along JFK Boulevard and Market Street. Additionally, green spaces and streetscapes will interconnect the project’s buildings creating a unique sense of mobility, while parking will be integrated in the overall plan in strategically located structures.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, prospective developers have until October 31 to submit their proposals. Drexel expected to narrow down the list by February next year, and a final decision—which comes with a 99-year ground lease on the land—is anticipated between February and April.


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Renderings courtesy of Drexel University

Burlington City Waterfront Revitalization to Start with 183-Unit Residential Community

4 Sep 2014, 2:15 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Pearl Pointe - Burlington City

Pearl Pointe – Burlington City

Burlington City’s bleak waterfront is set for a major transformation as the Common Council recently unveiled plans for a new residential development near the Delaware River in the city’s historic district.

Dubbed Pearl Pointe, the apartment community will be built by Phillipsburg-based Peron Development on a 3.8-acre city-owned site that encompasses two vacant parcels at High Street and Pearl Boulevard. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Peron Development has entered an agreement with Burlington City officials to purchase the construction site for around $1.83 million and will chip in $100,000 for the cost of landscaping.

“The City has a great history, a picturesque downtown, and a beautiful natural resource with the river,” said in an official statement John Callahan, director of business development for Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, the law firm that represents Peron in the project. “That, combined with accessible light rail, makes Burlington an ideal city for residential development,” he added.

Designed by USA Architects for young professionals—mostly millennials—and empty-nesters looking to downsize, the Pearl Pointe community will comprise two four-story residential buildings totaling 183 luxury and market-rate apartments, and one of the buildings will include 8,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space. According to the Inquirer, the units will be available for rents starting at $900 for a one-bedroom and $1,200 for a two-bedroom unit.

With construction scheduled to start within the following weeks, Pearl Pointe will be completed by the end of 2015. The residential community is expected to be the centerpiece of a long-delayed waterfront revitalization master plan that will eventually become an arts district to include an entertainment venue, restaurants and various recreational spaces.


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Rendering courtesy of the City of Burlington

Keystone Unveils Updated Plans for $200 Million Mixed-Use Project in Conshohocken

27 Aug 2014, 9:32 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

One Conshohocken

One Conshohocken

The $200 million mixed-use project that Keystone Property Group is looking to build in Conshohocken is moving forward as the developer recently presented updated details for the mega-development and announced that architecture and consulting firm Gensler will lead the planning and design of the project.

Conveniently located near a SEPTA train station, One Conshohocken was unanimously approved as a transit-oriented development by the Conshohocken Borough Council last year in December. Keystone’s project, which is part of the Conshohocken Redevelopment Master Plan, will reconvert four properties at the intersection of Fayette and Elm Streets into a vibrant public plaza flanked by offices, a new hotel, restaurants and shops. The existing properties include a grass covered area at the corner of West Elm and Fayette Streets, an office building at 1 West First Avenue and another one at 100 West Elm Street, a parking garage off West First Avenue, as well as the 136-year-old Washington Firehouse.

According to the Montgomery News, the updated version of the project calls for a 300,000-square-foot Class A office tower. This is a 50 percent increase in from the 2013 proposal which included a smaller building of only 200,000 square feet. Additionally, One Conshohocken will have a 200-room boutique hotel targeting business travelers, while the old firehouse at the corner of West Elm and Fayette Streets will be incorporated in the development as a brew pub and restaurant that will offer indoor-outdoor dining and event experiences. The existing parking garage will be replaced by a six-story parking facility with around 1,200 spaces with 300 spaces for public use. The public plaza, which was designed as the centerpiece of the project, will have 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of retail space that will lease at around $40 per square foot.

Phase I of the project, which includes the plaza, the 15-story hotel and the conversion of the firehouse, will break ground next spring. As for the office building, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports that it will be built as soon as an anchor office tenant is secured. Scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, the entire project is expected to generate up to 1,000 new permanent jobs.

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Rendering courtesy of Keystone Property Group


Revel owners fought to shut down early, and what to do about new A.C. eyesores

19 Aug 2014, 8:44 am

f the owners of the Revel Casino Hotel had it their way, they would have closed the facility on Monday.

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