Transforming a Vacant Big Box at the Plymouth Meeting Mall

When Macy’s vacated its three-story big box at Plymouth Meeting Mall, real estate investment trust PREIT saw it as an opportunity to redefine the traditional mall experience and create an experiential retail destination.

To fill the vacancy, they divided the larger box into smaller spaces and added several outparcels.

With a goal of minimizing dark space and securing high-performing tenants as quickly as possible, PREIT had an accelerated timeline for re-tenanting the space. Bohler joined the project team in identifying solutions to reimagine the existing building and bring new life to the mall’s west end on an aggressive schedule.

Creative Permitting Strategy

Bohler collaborated with PREIT to secure approvals quickly so they could start locking in desired tenants and negotiating leases. Working closely with the township and county, Bohler developed a design and permitting strategy that avoided the need for public meetings, and in turn, accelerated the timeline.

By creatively reallocating total leasable space and ultimately reducing parking demand, the team maintained the existing parking ratios. This design solution enabled Bohler to obtain a “waiver of land development” – a quicker approval process than a traditional land development submission. In the end, the team obtained redevelopment approvals faster than typically possible within the jurisdiction.

see related: out of the [big] box tips for filling vacant retail space

Construction Coordination

While repurposing existing space saves time, it often requires creative solutions to existing challenges. As an older facility that underwent multiple expansions, Plymouth Meeting Mall had complicated utilities, uneven first floor elevations, and other surprises underground. To tackle these unexpected elements, Bohler held weekly calls with the project’s architect, contractor, and subconsultants to ensure open communication and collaboration. The design team remained readily available to work through unforeseen construction obstacles to maintain momentum.

Transforming the Mall Experience

Bohler’s creative permitting strategy and extended project teamwork helped move the project forward. Ultimately, PREIT continues to diversify the tenant mix at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, bringing in Burlington, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Phenix Salon Suites, and Edge Fitness – a full-service fitness facility – as well as Miller’s Ale House and an arts and crafts purveyor. With nearly half of the property’s space dedicated to dining and entertainment, PREIT is committed to offering full-scale lifestyle destinations.

71 Acres
270K SF Renovation
7+ New Tenants

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