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[IMGCAP(1)]MALVERN, PA-L.L. Bean has signed on as an anchor tenant of O’Neill Properties Group’s Uptown Worthington, a $532-million mixed-use under construction here. The 33,000-sf store, which joins a 140,000-sf Wegmans supermarket and a 14-screen Muvico theatre as retail anchors, will be the Freeport-ME-based outdoor apparel company’s only Philadelphia-area location.

“As Wegmans is clearly the number one grocery store operator in the country, we believe that in outdoor goods, L.L. Bean is not only the leading purveyor but they’re also a classic American icon,” Brian O’Neill, founder and chairman of King of Prussia, PA-based O’Neill, tells GlobeSt.com. “We made numerous trips to their headquarters in Maine, talked with everyone from top to bottom and had numerous conversations about why we thought this was such a great place for them to be.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Along with the 1.9-million-sf project’s location and demographics, a key factor for L.L. Bean was the green initiatives O’Neill Properties is undertaking, O’Neill says. Uptown Worthington is remediating and redeveloping a 77-acre brownfield, the former Worthington Steel Factory; the developer also plans 30% open space, a Rails-to-Trails bike path and the re-opening of Little Valley Creek, currently enclosed in a pipe under asphalt paving. “They felt that being in the top 1% of US demographics, coupled with the unique opportunity to be located on a renovated factory site, was a winning combination.” L.L. Bean plans LEED certification for its store here, according to a news release.

“From our point of view, L.L. Bean will draw customers from 30 to 50 miles around,” says O’Neill. “It will bring a more regional reach to our shoppers than some of the smaller operators in that space.”

O’Neill tells GlobeSt.com that Uptown Worthington—which will also include 490,000 sf of office space, a 240-key hotel and 753 multifamily residential units along with 745,000 sf of retail and restaurants on its 100 acres—represents an evolution of the “new urbanism” concept. “This is really the new version of open-air village shopping,” he says. “It used to be that you’d do 100,000 sf with only boutique tenants. They didn’t want anchors, they didn’t want regionality and they didn’t want exposure. But you see the tenants today moving away from the boutique village shopping centers and gravitating strongly toward the larger centers.”

Adjacent to Uptown Worthington is another 3.5 million sf of office space, including the headquarters of both Vanguard Group and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. “The daily population on-site will be 25,000 people, and surrounding the site is 150,000 people,” says O’Neill. “So you have sort of an urban downtown in a suburban setting.”

The project’s regional accessibility will get a boost from a Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange scheduled to open in 2010. However, it’s already situated near the interchange of Routes 202 and 29, which O’Neill calls “the gateway to Chester County.” He says the county is the most affluent in Pennsylvania and the per-capita income is also high in neighboring Montgomery County.

Completion of Uptown Worthington is scheduled for fall 2009, and O’Neill says it will open all at once, “in one phase.” He says the elements comprising this project will be incorporated into his company’s future endeavors, and in fact O’Neill Properties is already working on an even larger MXD entailing brownfield cleanup: a 430-acre site in Sayreville, NJ, that formerly was home to National Lead’s paint manufacturing operations.

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