South St.: Lutz's Sneaker Villa to Walgreen's

The former Walgreens is pictured here before the store closed in early 2011. (Photo from

The Lutz family's Sneaker Villa chain "has signed a sublease for the 14,100 square foot former Walgreen's located at 608 South Street in Philadelphia," says Brent Barbehenn, vice president at Metro Commerical Realty, who rep'd the drugstore chain in the sublease.

Philadelphia-based Sneaker Villa, a chain of 50+ "urban-inspired lifestyle footwear and apparel retailers" in Philly, Chicago, Detroit, and the upstate Pa. and N.Y. cities, was founded by Chris and Ruth Lutz in 1989 and is now run by their son Jason Lutz. It's planning "rapid" additional expansion, says Barbehenn -- which is convenient for his brokerage since Metro has a deal with Excess Space Retail Services to find tenants for "surplus" Walgreens, TD Bank, Burlington Coat Factory, Staples and AT&T sites in the mid-Atlantic region.

The site is near the center of the South Street retail-restaurant-residential district, whose clientele has morphed from discount suit-and-fur shoppers to funky-hippy vibe to student hangout (Philly's version of NYC's "bridge-and-tunnel" crowd), and toward the growing college-educated population in the neighborhoods adjoining Center City, since the street was spared from a proposed Interstate highway bypass back in the 1960s.