More than 2 dozen new businesses set to open in Center City, boosting pandemic recovery

So far, 28 new businesses have announced plans to open this year, according to the Center City District
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than two dozen new businesses are set to open this year in Center City as pandemic recovery efforts continue.

In the most recent January report from the Center City District, between March 2020 and December 2021 Center City welcomed 125 new businesses.

So far, 28 new businesses have announced plans to open this year, according to CCD.

"Here's a simple analogy: If you're at the beach and it's low tide, it's an awful lot of stuff left on the beach and it doesn't look good initially," said Paul Levy, president of Center City District.

Over the last year and a half, the Center City District reports 195 businesses permanently shut down in Center City due in part to a large number of national closures and downsizing.

Closures also heavily impacted other large cities, including New York, Chicago and Miami in a similar way.

"People need to work and they need to have places they can come eat at," said customer Ronnie Thomas.

The Walgreens at Broad and Chestnut will soon close its doors at the end of the month.

The AC Moore across the street closed right before the pandemic.

The old Banana Republic a block away is now becoming a bank, helping to bring cash flow back into the area.

Levy said the tide is turning.

"We're seeing new people come in. We're really seeing strong interest in the city," Levy said.

The University of the Arts is now in the space that was once a Wawa at Broad and Walnut streets, but a nearby location at Chestnut and 13th streets remains closed.

"They closed my store. That's my Wawa that I go to," said former customer Molly Walsh. "I wish that they do build something like that with grocery options."

The recovery depends heavily on office workers returning.

Levy said their survey of major firms shows that employees will be coming back.

"80% of them fully expect to be back in the office. Same amount of office space and expanding," Levy said. "And we're at about 40% of office workers back in Center City on average three days a week. We really would like to get as close to five days a week and close to 100% back because those are the regular customers for stores."
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