Movie theater planned for revamped Gallery mall, city records show

PBUSINESS-a
In a rendering of the Gallery at Market East, the intersection of Ninth and Market Streets shows one exterior view.

It may soon be showtime again in Center City.

A permit application filed with Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections for work at the Gallery at Market East shopping mall refer to a “cinema tenant” as being part of the property’s redevelopment plans.

Center City hasn’t had a movie theater specializing in mainstream films, as the Gallery cinema would likely be, since the closure of the Sameric Theatre (previously the Boyd) in 2002, said local movie-house historian Howard Haas.

If a new theater came to the Gallery, which is being revamped into an outlet-shopping center called Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia, it would be much different from the venues that used to be in Center City, Haas said.

“It would have more food options, reserved recliner seats, and a liquor license,” he said. “That’s how mainstream movie theaters are opening these days.”

The movie theater proposed at the Gallery would be located on the third floor of the mall’s western-most section at 1025 Market Street, L&I spokeswoman Karen Guss said in an email this week.

An additional “entertainment/restaurant tenant” also is proposed for the third-floor space, currently part of clothing discounter Burlington Coat Factory’s three-level store at the Gallery, Guss said.

The developers, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust of Philadelphia and Macerich of Santa Monica, Calif., are aiming to complete the Gallery’s $325 million transformation in 2018. No tenants of the redeveloped mall have been announced, although PREIT chief executive Joseph Coradino has said he has commitments from retailers, entertainment-venue operators, and restaurants for about half  the property.

PREIT spokeswoman Heather Crowell declined to comment on the movie-theater permit and its impact on the Burlington store, citing a policy of not confirming “details on potential tenants without a fully executed lease.”

Burlington Stores Inc. spokeswoman Lauren Flanagan did not respond to an email.

Coradino has in the past called Burlington's relocation “a possibility,” but he has not specified where it might be moved.

Haas said a movie theater could be a good fit for the site, but cautioned that other proposals for Center City movie theaters did not come to fruition.

Plans have called for movie venues at Penn’s Landing, Liberty Place, the Wanamaker Building, the southwest corner of Eighth and Market Streets, and other locations, he said.

“[In] the last few decades there have been countless proposals and announcements of multiplexes in Center City,” Haas said. “None of them were built.”