The long-anticipated Fashion District Philadelphia opens this week.
Spanning three city blocks and approximately 900,000 square feet of space, the District features eateries, a movie theater, other entertainment venues and more than 40 retailers, including DSW, H&M, Pandora, ULTA, Wills Eye Wear and several locally-based independent shops.
“We really curated a thoughtful mix of experiences, a variety of tenants and a variety of price points — offering something for everyone,” said Joseph Coradino, CEO of PREIT, one of the companies that developed the District in the space formerly known as The Gallery Mall.
“It’s really been designed with Philadelphia in mind — appealing to a broad range of audiences.”
The new mall will open at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with a ceremony outside the Cube at 9th at Market streets. The event will feature remarks by leaders from developers PREIT and Macerich, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau President Julie Coker Graham.
A highlight of the new retail destination is Uniquely Philly — a collection of four local small businesses that bring authentic Philadelphia offerings to the District. Uniquely Philly houses South Fellini and three African American-owned shops, including American Hats LLC, Dolly’s Boutique and The Sable Collective.
'We want to be a representation of what Philly is and what Philly was," said Shanti Mayers, co-owner of The Sable Collective, a boutique featuring clothing, body care and jewelry from African-American vendors.
"The Gallery was a space that I grew up in and I want to make sure that in the renovation that we are still being captured and still being represented. So we're really honored to be in that space that encompasses that."
Mayers and the Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, owner of American Hats, said having a presence in Uniquely Philly will help their businesses and vendors grow.
“Where we’re currently located is phenomenal for a factory but we don’t get any foot traffic,” Morgan-Thomas said, referring to her family-owned business’ factory in Frankford. “The customers that come to see us are wholesalers. By us being here in Fashion District mall, we have the opportunity to introduce to all the average men and women a quality product made right here in Philadelphia.”
She continued: “Once individuals start to come in and they can touch our hats and try them on, we believe that this is the breakthrough we need that will take our business to a major increase in revenue.”
Developers and retailers are sure the District will draw visitors, especially with its entertainment zone that includes a movie theater, bowling lanes, karaoke and rotating immersive art exhibits at Wonderspaces.
REC Philly — a creative space for creatives — also will also be housed at the site.
The first exhibit to open will be Candytopia, which features art made entirely from candy and a marshmallow pit for people to play in.
The District reportedly has an economic impact of more $560 million on the Philadelphia region and has created about 4,500 temporary and permanent jobs.