Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fill This Front: Stapler

1222-24 Walnut

                 After seven years and a massive renovation, you'd think there would be tons of motherfuckers jumping at the chance to get this great storefront. Tons of foot traffic, a 4,000 square foot floor plate, right off the Tony Goldman-ized 13th Street... you can't beat it. So why, oh why, is this storefront still vacant?
             This is the longest this storefront has ever been unoccupied, which sucks when you consider that the place has been continually filled since 1921. It was built in 1919 and 1920 by an unknown speculator under the designs of Frank E. Hahn, but was later purchased by the St. James Hotel next door (now Walnut Square) and altered by their favorite architect, Horace Trumbauer. In 1921, the storefront got its first retail tenant, Stecker Inc, a women's and children's apparel store. They managed to stick around until the early 1940s.
            In April of 1947, David Stapler moved the 50-year-old fabric store his father Charles created  into the building from South Philly and the store stayed open, staying in the same family, until April 2007, precisely 60 years later. It was David's son, Michael, who sold the building to the Girard Estate in that year. The Girard Estate sat on the building for the next five years, blaming the real estate bust for not doing shit with it.
              Finally, on March 3rd, 2012, they sold the building to a Holland, PA-based company called B & M Leasing for $1,912,500. Once word got out that the building was finally going to get its shit together, numerous chefs and restauranteurs descended on the space, hoping to take advantage of its massive size and proximity to bad-ass restaurants. Recognizing this, the new owners went about getting the building a liquor license, or at least said they would.
            The new owners also completely gutted and over-hauled the space, cleaning up the dirty facade and putting the upper floors into a better condition. The one feature of the building that was thankfully retained was the cool-looking street level display window, installed in 1954 by the William Linker Construction Company under the designs of George Daur. By the fall of 2013, they found a tenant for the top 3 floors (Kaplan International Center) and there was rumor that NYC's Bounce Sporting Club was looking to open in the ground-floor storefront.
           Then... nothing happened. The latest clue about Bounce Sporting Club was in a little article on this Fox Business News website where the dude who runs the place says he "plans to expand in 2014, having chosen strategic partners in both Philadelphia and Dallas" So what the fuck is going on here? The whole front has been modernized and re-done, the Kaplan place upstairs is rocking out like a motherfucker-- why does no one want this space? Let me break it down for you:

                       This is the +/- 4000 square foot retail space at 1222-24 Walnut Street. It has a huge fancy-looking front window with about 34 feet of frontage on a busy-ass section of Walnut Street in Midtown Village/the Gayborhood, part of Greater Washington Square West. The ceiling height is tall as shit and the floor space extends back about 104 feet, meaning you could fit just about anything in here. It has a rear access from St. James Street. The space is close to nearly every form of public transportation in the City of Philadelphia: a few blocks from both subways, 5 trolley lines, every regional rail via Market East Station, and a whole shitload of SEPTA and New Jersey Transit bus lines, including the 23 bus, the most heavily used bus line in the whole system.
                       Being that the previous occupant was able to make this space work for 60 consecutive years, its pretty safe to say that this retail space has some staying power... and they did it when there was no such thing as Midtown Village or even the Gayborhood! There aren't many other floorplates this size in the neighborhood, so this is really the only place around here that you can fit a more larger format-type place. The space is being offered for lease by CBRE|FAMECO and the price is "negotiable". Here's the listing. Don't wait! FILL THIS FRONT!!

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