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PHILADELPHIA-Goldenberg Group will develop a mixed-use project on a 103,000-sf site at Eighth and Market streets in Center City, which, Robert W. Freedman, SVP and general counsel of the Blue Bell-based developer, tells would “probably cost an estimated $200 million to complete.” It combines retail, entertainment and residential, with the retail segment scheduled to open first with Target as its anchor.

Freedman acknowledged that, on the day Goldenberg announced plans for the project, which is called Pavilion at Market East, it also filed a claim in the Court of Common Pleas to require the Parking Authority to “confirm our agreement” regarding use of the 30,000-sf garage at Eighth and Chestnut. Freedman says that while Goldenberg is the property holder of the 83,000-sf parcel at Eighth and Market, which it has had for approximately six years, “the adjacent 30,000 sf is in title to the Parking Authority under an agreement to be structured to provide parking for our project. The Parking Authority put out a request for proposal to other developers, and we don’t think that’s in line with the agreement.” Calls to the Parking Authority were not returned by deadline.

The 300-unit residential condo portion of Pavilion is designed to rise 20 stories above the existing parking garage on Chestnut, Freedman says, “using air rights, once we work out the details.” Asked if Goldenberg was attempting to buy the Parking Authority site, he says, “an agreement could be structured to define who’s building what and who’s operating what.”

Another dispute is reportedly in play. According to published reports, locally based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust lays claim to having a half-interest in the Pavilion site, a claim that Freedman disputes. Calls to PREIT were not returned by deadline. In the late 1990s, in partnership with PREIT, Goldenberg had plans to develop DisneyQuest, an indoor amusement park at this location, but Disney’s owner reneged, leaving the site undeveloped.

Despite the apparent roadblocks, Freedman says he expects groundbreaking for the retail portion of the project to begin within a year to 14 months, although he acknowledges that the plans must make the traditional round of city approvals. “We’ve discussed the project with members of the city council and have had positive reviews. Everything we do is complicated.” He points to Columbus Commons, the Ikea-anchored shopping center recently opened by Goldenberg at a former rail site in South Philadelphia.

At Pavilion, in addition to Target, Freedman says Goldenberg has commitments from Linens ‘n Things and Barnes & Noble, and is seeking them with Best Buy or Circuit City and several smaller shops. A 16-screen movie theater is also planned along with an upscale sports bar or restaurant. The retail portion is designed as a four-story structure fronting Market. The parking garage, also in the plan, is to provide more than 1,000 vehicle spaces. An underground tie-in with Septa’s Market Street Station is also planned.

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