PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA-Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust has broken ground for redevelopment and expansion of Plymouth Meeting Mall. Plans call for adding 142,000 sf to the 800,000-sf center.

The additions include a 65,000-sf Whole Foods Market, which will be connected to the mall by a new 39,000-sf, open-air lifestyle wing. The project also calls for new outparcels. Four of them, which aggregate 34,000 sf, are for themed restaurants: PF Chang’s Asian Bistro, Redstone American Grill, California Pizza Kitchen and Benihana. A Citibank branch is also being added on a new 4,000-sf outparcel.

A spokeswoman confirms that the total investment is projected at $83.9 million. The year-to-date investment is $23.7 million, she tells The center was completed in 1966 and renovated eight years ago. PREIT acquired it in 2003. That year, as previously reported, the Philadelphia-based REIT paid approximately $15.8 million for the former 160,000-sf Ikea store and 6.1-acre adjoining parcel.

The vacant Ikea has been demolished to make way for the expansion. The new outparcels are scheduled for occupancy at the end of this year, and the expansion is expected to reach completion in 2008.

Macy’s and Boscov’s are anchors. As of March 31, the mall was 80.5% occupied. The average base rent rate was $29.24 per sf, up 6.5% in comparison with March 31, 2006, and comp store sales averaged $281 per sf, up 4.4% from the same time a year ago.

“Once the redevelopment is complete, this mall will be the destination of choice for both the area residents and the employees of local businesses,” said Joseph Coradino, president of PREIT Services LLC and PREIT-Rubin Inc., during the groundbreaking ceremony. The mall is on Germantown Pike at the confluence of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, its Northeast extension and the Interstate 476 Blue Route, which Coradino says is “one of the best retail locations in the [suburban Philadelphia] market.”

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