Thanks to Philly millennials, Center City undergoing a radical changeBy Suzette Parmley, Staff Writer . Photo: Chip Fox.Published July 31, 2016
With millennials invading Center City and national retailers chasing them, the Philadelphia downtown shopping scene is undergoing a radical transformation.Brokers say they almost can't close deals fast enough with demand for prime retail space high and supply limited.The continued influx of millennials and the steady growth in health care and higher-education institutions are expected to drive the Center City retail market for years."There's been a seismic shift in the commercial real estate market in Center City over the past few years," said broker Chris Shenian of the Shenian Co. at 1518 Walnut St. "The ground is literally shifting under our feet."He should know. Shenian represents high-end furniture maker Thos. Moser out of Maine, which last month committed to opening a shop at 1605 Walnut St., next to a busy Apple store. Shenian also counts Pennsylvania Fine Wine & Good Spirits Stores as a client. He represented the landlord in negotiations for a state wine store at 1218 Chestnut St. about 10 years ago. That store is moving to a bigger space on the 1100 block of Chestnut."The shifts in the past two to three years are unlike anything I have seen in the past 25 years," he said. "The renaissance of the restaurant scene has been notable with the redevelopment of Market East, which entails several blocks on Market Street East. It's definitely trending toward a younger demographic, which is reflected in all the millennials coming to Center City in droves."It didn't hurt that the city raised its profile over the last year."These national players realize Philly is hot right now," said Shenian, who also represents Toppers Spa, Susanna Foo, and My.Suit. "The papal visit and the DNC convention continue to highlight that Philadelphia is a national player."