$500 million revitalization planned for E. Market St. block

     On Market Street between 11th and 12th, stores will be demolished for a $500 million-plus renovation project, making way for new street-level retail space with 325 apartments above (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

    On Market Street between 11th and 12th, stores will be demolished for a $500 million-plus renovation project, making way for new street-level retail space with 325 apartments above (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

    A new development project could help solve a problem Philly’s leaders have spent years trying to fix.

    For 30 years, Philadelphia’s leaders have tried to solve the problem of East Market Street.

    The main east-west corridor of Center City, once lined with major department stores, is now home to parking lots and low-end retail establishments considered underperforming.

    A newly announced development project could help solve a piece of that puzzle.

    The team of developers plans to level the entire downtown block of Market Street between 11th and 12th streets to make room for retail and apartments — and then renovate existing buildings south of Market.

    It could help to make a corridor that was once a major shopping destination viable again, said Paul Levy, president of the Center City District.

    “It’s on a footpath for lot of people who are conventioneers. It’s over on the east side of town where there’s a growing population,” he said. “And, from an east-west perspective, it’s one of the key pieces that needs to be put in place to close the gap between the Convention Center and the Independence National Historic Park.”

    The construction and renovation will cost more than $500 million. The local partners have financial backing from a large real estate trust, National Real Estate Advisors, and they’ll have $7 million of state money to work with.

    The developers, looking to borrow hundreds of million dollars more, say they’ll seek more government assistance.

    This is not the first ambitious project proposed for the property. The local development partners bought the development rights in 2008 from a suburban developer who could not finance plans for a skyscraper on the site.

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