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The “Retail Reckoning” in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse


Larry Steinberg talks with PBJ on Changes Ahead in Philadelphia Retail

On a warm Friday afternoon in late January, workers were hauling white shelving and racks out of what had been American Eagle Outfitters on Chestnut Street in Center City and indiscriminately hurtling the items on the bed of a truck.

RetailReckoning_1024x972SearchCardThe store, like the Forever 21 just across the street, had closed.

At the same time around the corner at Talbots on Walnut Street, the store was desolate but for a few racks of women’s shirts, pants and jackets. The bottom half of a mannequin was on display — undressed — in the store front window along with a small sign. Talbots was closing the next day.

Philadelphia’s High Street retail corridors is hitting a low. Talbots, Forever 21 and American Eagle joined other retailers such as Under Armour, Jack Wells, Timberland, Barneys, Zara, A.C. Moore among others that have shuttered.

The same forces that have devastated malls have manifested themselves along Main Street and High Street retail corridors such as Walnut and Chestnut. E-commerce, a change in spending habits after the Great Recession, and millennials and GenZers willingness to spend on restaurants, entertainment and fitness rather than apparel have reconfigured retail. That has, combined, created a worrisome situation.

“We’re seeing many more vacancies than we’ve ever seen before,” said Larry Steinberg, a retail broker with Colliers International. “We’re in a critical situation if these stores stay vacant. It will begin to affect other merchants.”

Center City’s retail scene has its strengths in spite of the current situation. An increase in residents, visitors, college students and workers with disposable income to spend on everything from Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, Nars makeup and a pair of Brunello Cucinelli trousers has helped to generate $1 billion in retail demand in Philadelphia, according to a 2019 Center City District and Central Philadelphia Development Corp. report on the city’s retail market.

Read More at Philadelphia Business Journal

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Larry Steinberg

Senior Managing Director


Laurence Steinberg joined Colliers in April 2019 to lead and further grow the Urban Retail division in Philadelphia. Larry has an extensive 25-year plus career in commercial real estate that includes development, consulting and brokerage. Prior to joining Colliers, Larry headed up the Retail group at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors (RRA), served as an Executive Vice President with CBRE (FAMECO), a Principal of Michael Salove Company, and as a Partner in L.S. Powell Company, where he developed over one million square feet of commercial real estate.

For over a decade, Larry has brokered deals with acclaimed restaurateurs, premier restaurant chains and national retailers in the Philadelphia area. He has represented Morton’s Steakhouse for all of their Philadelphia and surrounding area locations, including their highest grossing unit at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City. Larry has worked closely with Philadelphia restaurant luminaries such as Stephen Starr, Jose Garces, Marc Vetri, Kevin Sbraga, Steven Cook and Michael Solomonov.

Larry’s retail presence can be seen throughout Center City. He was successful in bringing national retailers to Philadelphia such as H&M, The North Face, Cole Haan and West Elm. Recent noteworthy transactions include the first Target store in Center City and deals for Warby Parker, Theory, Madewell, Under Armour, a 26,000 square foot Walgreens flagship store, and a 40,000 square foot Nordstrom Rack.

In addition to leasing, Larry has brokered the sale of important retail properties, including nine buildings along Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square. Most recently he represented the Seller for the sale of 1330 Chestnut Street, 1529 Walnut Street, and 1700 Chestnut Street.

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