GALLERY AT MARKET EAST
Market and 9th Streets
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Market East area, radiating from the intersection of 12th and Market Streets in Center City Philadelphia, was the central point of trade for the region between the early 1800s and early 1960s.

During the post-World War II era, its prominence faded due to the rapid suburbanization of the city and development of outlying shopping centers, such as CHERRY HILL MALL (1961) {in suburban Camden, New Jersey}, KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA (1963) {in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania} and PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL (1966) {also in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania}.

As an attempt to save the city's declining downtown , a Center City retail complex was on the drawing board by the mid-1950s. The first concrete proposal was completed in 1958. This plan was revised in 1960 and 1963 and approved, by civic leaders, in 1964.

Under the auspices of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, urban renewal funds were secured from the Department of Housing & Urban Development. After several delays, a joint venture was formed between the PRA and Maryland-based Rouse Company. Construction commenced in 1974.

The first phase of Philly's urban shopping mall, officially known as GALLERY AT MARKET EAST (or THE GALLERY), was designed by John Bower of Bower & Fradley Architects and was dedicated August 11, 1977.

Comprising 4 levels of retail, the mall occupied 4.7 acres, stretching from the intersection of 10th and Market Streets -east- to the circa-1931 Strawbridge & Clothier building, which stood at 8th and Market.

The Strawbridge & Clothier structure housed a 7-level (522,000 square foot) flagship store and 5-level home office. It was joined by the second anchor of the complex, a newly-built, 4-level (300,000 square foot), Gimbels-Philadelphia.

THE GALLERY mall, with its Strawbridge & Clothier flagship, encompassed 969,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and twenty-five stores and services. Its main feature was a naturally lit, 4-level interior court, with sixteen escalators, modern sculptuary and 40-foot Ficus trees.

Subterranean concourses linked the (basement) Mall Level of GALLERY AT MARKET EAST with three rail rapid transit hubs; the SEPTA / Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority 8th Street Station, on the Market-Frankford Line, SEPTA 8th Street Station, on the Broad-Ridge Spur, and PATCO / Port Authority Transit Corporation 8th & Market Station.

A second phase of the Center City shopopolis was constructed on the city block bounded by 11th, Market, 10th and Filbert Streets. It was dedicated October 12, 1983 and encompassed 350,000 leasable square feet. Unofficially, it was known as GALLERY II, with the original structure referred to -henceforth- as GALLERY I. Like its predecessor, GALLERY II consisted of 4 levels of retail, with a 3-level (184,000 square foot) J.C. Penney as its anchor.

The two GALLERY AT MARKET EAST components were joined by concourses extending under 9th and 10th Streets and also by second and third level mallways over 9th and 10th. The Street Level of the mall (the second out of the four) was divided into three parts by 9th and 10th Streets.

GALLERY II included subterranean connections between the (lower) Mall Level and SEPTA 11th Street Station (on the Market-Frankford Line). Moreover, a new SEPTA Regional Rail terminal, the Market East Station, was built along with the shopping complex and was also accessed from its Mall Level.

The GALLERY malls occupied eight Center City acres, encompassed 1,319,000 leasable square feet and were connected, via skybridges, to two parking garages. There were spaces for two hundred and thirty shops and services.

Gimbels became the first anchor to be rebranded, when New Jersey-based Stern's took over its space August 18, 1986. This store lasted until March 1992. 99,000 square feet of the space was leased as a Clover Store, a discount branch of Strawbridge & Clothier. This operation began business August 7, 1995. 

After Clover's departure, half of its area was taken by Big Kmart. The 2-level (150,000 square foot) location, reputedly the first in a major city downtown district, opened November 20, 1997. J.C. Penney was shuttered in late 2001. Burlington Coat Factory opened their (147,000 square foot) store, in 3 levels of the previous Penney's, on August 21, 2003.

By this time, the GALLERY AT MARKET EAST was struggling to keep tenants. Its primary anchor, Strawbridge's, was shuttered September 9, 2006. The mall's previous position as a mid-tier venue, with classy department stores and tenants, was slipping.

Meanwhile, a Center City Philadelphia casino was being discussed. Originally proposed for a south Philadelphia riverfront site, the location of the prospective Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia was changed due to community opposition.

In the autumn of 2008, it was decided to attempt to install the facility in the existing GALLERY AT MARKET EAST complex. At first, the existing Burlington Coat Factory was to be relocated. In February 2009, the plan was altered again. Now, the casino was to occupy 3 floors of the vacant Strawbridge's store.

This plan was aborted in February 2010, when the prospective location of the controversial casino was shifted back to the original south Philly site. Alas, GALLERY AT MARKET EAST would have no inner city gambling hall.

Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) had acquired the bulk of GALLERY I in April 2003 and most of the GALLERY II property (excluding the Big Kmart store) in March 2004. In April 2013, PREIT acquired the Kmart space from New Jersey's Vornado Realty Trust. PREIT now owned the majority of the GALLERY AT MARKET EAST complex. The Big Kmart store was shuttered in April 2014.

California's Macerich Company entered into a joint venture with PREIT in July 2014. They announced a massive 325 million dollar revamp of the property, aided by 149 million dollars in tax breaks. The renewed retail, restaurant and entertainment complex would be known as FASHION OUTLETS PHILADELPHIA. Much of the inward-facing mall would be reoriented with streetscape vendors and sidewalk cafes.

The first official tenant in the revamped property, a New York City-based Century 21, was installed in a portion of the vacant Strawbridge's structure. The (98,000 square foot) store opened its doors on October 23, 2014. By this time, what tenants that remained in the mall had been shuttered. Demolition and construction commenced in late 2016, with a grand re-opening planned for 2018.

Sources:

"Gallery At Market East" article on Wikipedia
www.edbacon.org
The Lakeland Ledger
www.preit.com
www.burlingtoncoatfactory.com
www.septa.org
http://www.ridepatco.org