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DOWNINGTOWN, PA-Five Below, the Philadelphia-based retail chain that targets teens and pre-teens, will open a 10,000-sf unit in the 612,000-sf Brandywine Square Shopping Center. The new format is double the size of most of the retailer’s existing stores and is a prototype for future expansion.

“Downingtown is the ideal location for us,” Michael Levin, executive vice president of operations and real estate, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s got lots of families and lots of children and a high concentration of teens and pre-teens.” All products sold by Five Below retail for between $1 and $5.

“The new store format,” Levin says, “arranges items by category into eight ‘worlds’ or departments, such a sports, media, crafts and style. It allows us to expand the categories and also make it easier for the customer to shop.” The prototype opens Friday.

The chain signed a 10-year lease with options to renew for its 50th store. Richard Schuch of Plymouth Meeting-based Fameco Real Estate and Levin represented Five Below in the negotiations. Levin declines to disclose the value of the lease or the rental rate. According to a first-quarter retail report from the Philadelphia office of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co., the retail rents in the Philadelphia suburbs is expected to average $19.31 per sf this year, up 2.8% from the year before.

Five Below’s expansion plan has been seeded with $20 million from LLR Partners, a Philadelphia-based private equity firm. “We plan to eventually have hundreds and hundreds of stores,” Levin says, “and will open between 15 and 20 next year and more than 20 in 2008. We plan to reach 100 units within the next two to three years.” Five Below was founded in 2002 by David Schlessinger and Tom Vellios, the same duo that previously founded Zany Brainy.

A 120,000-sf Wegman’s supermarket anchors Brandywine Square, which is located at US Route 30 and Quarry Road. The 95%-leased center is owned by an affiliate headed by Frank Acierno, president of Wilmington, DE-based Allied Properties Inc. Among the other tenants are BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dick’s Sporting Goods, AC Moore, DSW and Regal Cinema.

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