Barnes & Noble moves to 17th and Chestnut in Philadelphia
Barnes & Noble’s flagship Philadelphia location at 1805 Walnut St. will soon be moving to a new, smaller location on Chestnut Street.
An agreement was signed by the bookstore chain and its retail broker, MSC Retail, with the owners of 1708 Chestnut St. The former home of Forever 21 before a wave of bankruptcy-related closures in 2019, the building which will house the new bookstore The site is owned by the Rubin family, who helped establish the modern downtown.
Listed at 19,000 square feet of retail space, the Chestnut Street location is smaller than Walnut Street’s current 24,000 square feet. Both locations, however, offer two floors of retail, with condominiums above. The rent will also be lower, although it is unclear by how much.
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The Walnut Street location, owned by former City Council member Allan Domb, faces Rittenhouse Square. None of the owners or brokers would officially speak about the move.
Paul Levy, president and CEO of the Center City District, said he saw the move as a natural example of a company looking for new opportunities in a changing downtown retail environment. .
“It’s great for West Chestnut Street, which has gotten really strong, especially West of 16th Street, with a lot of retailers moving in,” Levy said. The bookstore’s new location “is still fairly close to Rittenhouse Square and the residential market and closer to Market Street as the office sector returns”.
Barnes & Noble’s move can be seen as part of a broader retail shake-up at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Walk-in business plunged in the early months of the outbreak, and some downtown businesses were then hit hard by the unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.
Since 2020, the rental conditions have changed. Some small businesses closed permanently amid pandemic-era retirements, but the sector as a whole held up better than expected. Downtown said retail sales reached 94% of 2019 levels this summer, while restaurant sales were still only 74% of pre-pandemic levels.
But many retailers have sought to reposition their stores in locations and deals with stronger lease terms. J. Crew moved from the Shops at Liberty Place to 1719 Walnut St., for example, while Philly Runner moved from 1601 Sansom St. to 1711 Walnut.
“The pandemic has changed a lot of circumstances in the city, but we’ve seen a lot of success with new leases and people coming in,” Levy said. “We’re really optimistic about the trends.”