Market East, the shopping district stretching from City Hall to Independence Mall, is best known for its hodgepodge of discount clothing emporiums, “we buy gold” shops and vacant buildings, all set to the soundtrack of the music blaring from storefront speakers. Over the years, there have been many attempts to gentrify this neighborhood — and so far, all have failed. But now, a makeover seems imminent.
After years of false starts, change is now coming fast. Last month, The Inquirer and Daily News announced they will relocate to the vacant Strawbridge & Clothier department store at Eighth and Market (with $2.9 million in city financing). This summer, Nutter signed a bill (introduced by outgoing City Councilman and billboard enthusiast Frank DiCicco) to create an outdoor advertising district in Market East to replace the grit with Times Square-style glitter. Philadelphia Real Estate Investment Trust is planning to renovate and upgrade the Gallery Mall, and a 2009 city plan — now finally coming to fruition — calls for the redevelopment of the south side of the street’s 1100 block. The rumor is it will be anchored by a Target.