A visual playground – the new Philadelphia Fashion District is something to behold

It was sixteen years in the making, developers say. The new space that houses the Philadelphia Fashion District is not only a mix of name-brand stores, affordable retailers, and first-to-market concepts, but it’s also a home to well-established and aspiring artists. 

Walk in through what’s called “The Cube” at 9th and Market streets, and you just can’t help but look up. Murals, art installations, and sculptures adorn the landscape of the new Fashion District, which opens to the public on Thursday. 

Local, national, and international artwork is on display in this big, bright new landscape along Market East.

The district has invested $1 million in art installations by local, national and international artists. They range from large-scale 2-D and 3-D sculptures to 50-foot long murals. 

New York artist Michael Murphy’s “Liberty and Freedom” (2019) is made from copper Dibond and stainless steel and hangs from the ceiling at the top of the escalator above the main entrance off Market Street. Depending on your perspective, it looks like the Liberty Bell from one angle and William Penn from another. 

Another New York artist, Jason Woodside, hand-painted a mural that adorns a Filbert Street entrance. It wraps the surrounding walls and ceiling as you enter and exit the building. 

And Philly artist Conrad Benner, founder of the local blog StreetsDept.com, partnered with the district to curate a mural exhibit showcasing the work of 11 local artists. These are just a few examples of what’s on display. 

Spanning three city blocks and occupying 900,000 square feet of space within the old, blighted Gallery, the new mall is a milestone investment for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which missed its quarterly profit estimates over the summer. PREIT CEO Joe Coradino is banking on the Philadelphia Fashion District to be a success. 

“Philly didn’t have a downtown mall. This is it. We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” he told reporters during an exclusive media walk-thru on Tuesday. 

“We’ve really curated a thoughtful mix of experiences – a variety of tenants – a series of price points offering something for everyone.”

The district will feature 44 retail options and 21 dining offerings, including a winery and a pop-up of Yards Brewing Company. Check out the third floor for a dedicated entertainment zone, which will boast a movie theater, billiards, bowling, karaoke, interactive art exhibits, a candy theme park and more. There’s also a rec center and a shared co-working space. 

While the old Gallery only had three access points, the new mall will have two dozen entrances to the establishment. It should make getting there a lot easier. 

Images: PREIT

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