By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s been speculation that a high-end department store such as Bloomingdale’s could be coming to the former Strawbridge & Clothier building, at 8th and Market Streets in center city.

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Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust owns eight area malls, including Cherry Hill and Willow Grove.  They also have The Gallery at Market East in their portfolio.

There have been a lot of guesses on how they might be able to transform that slightly frayed mall and its surrounding area, including the possible addition of an anchor store like a Bloomingdale’s.

Adding a store like Bloomingdale’s to the Gallery would be a great start to upgrading Market Street east of City Hall, according to Paul Levy, president of the Center City District.

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“That was a street that used to have eight department stores,” Levy notes.  “The world has changed, but Macy’s (at 13th and Market) has shown it’s hugely successful.  So to have another major department store would be excellent.”

And a way to help transform Market East from inward-facing to a destination, Levy envisions:

“Get a mix of restaurants, places that could have outdoor cafés.  We have 300 outdoor cafés in center city, and none on a big wide street like Market East. So it’s clearly a missing piece.”

Levy hopes to learn more about concrete plans for the Gallery by fall.

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