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PHILADELPHIA-O’Neill Properties obtained rezoning approval to redevelop a 50-acre parcel between Essington Ave. and 67th St. in the Eastwick neighborhood into the 500,000-sf Shoppes at Essington Avenue. The all-in construction cost is estimated at $50 million, according to Richard Heany, EVP of the King of Prussia-based company that specializes in remediating and redeveloping brownfields sites.

O’Neill acquired the parcel from multiple sellers. While it contains a few small buildings, “it is currently mostly a junkyard filled with piles of wrecked cars and scrap,” Heany says. “We have a one-year obligation to remediate the land according to our development plan with the Dept. of Environmental Protection,” he tells GlobeSt.com, “and will begin construction immediately following the cleanup.” Construction will take between one and two years.

Plans call for two big-box anchors of between 135,000 sf and 150,000 sf and a smaller box of about 30,000 sf to 40,000 sf, “for something like a Best Buy,” Heany says. O’Neill is working with the Eastwick Project Area Committee. Regarding any possible anti-Wal-Mart sentiment, Heany says, “this is a redevelopment project, and we’ve been very upfront with Eastwick PAC. There are lots of obstacles to redevelopment, and we need to be able to market the property without constraints or obstacles.”

He mentions Target, Staples and Lowe’s as potential anchors. O’Neill unveiled Shoppes at Essington along with the retail component of its Worthington mixed-use project at the Worthington Steel site in Malvern to potential tenants at the recent ICSC conference in Las Vegas. The Worthington redevelopment also calls for 500,000 sf of retail along with 600 residential units in a 50/50 mix of condo and rental. “We’re able to leverage off both developments by marketing multiple properties at the same time,” Heany says. The Worthington redevelopment is not as far along as the Eastwick property.

In addition to the three anchor parcels at the Essington Ave. project, there will be two additional pads, either for two restaurants or a restaurant and bank, along with about 90,000 sf of smaller shops in a strip setting. Of the big-box anchors and outparcels, Heany says, “while we’d prefer ground leases, we’ll let the market decide whether or not they become tenants or build under lease to us.”

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