Fashion District marks one year as revitalized community hub in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Now a revitalized community hub in Center City, Philadelphia, the Fashion District celebrated its first anniversary this weekend.

The entertainment and shopping destination replaced the Gallery last September, but never imagined a months-long shutdown due to COVID-19.

The Fashion District reopened its doors in July and is still implementing safety protocols. Guests must wear masks and maintain social distance while the indoor mall operates at 50% capacity.

But it has never lost sight of its mission.

"We try and do food, film, fashion, fun, and now we have fitness," said Sarah Frank, Marketing Director at the Fashion District.

A myriad of events are still planned for the district. Every weekend in September, exercise fiends can sneak in a workout on the mall's campus. Similar events are planned for weekends in October, however with yoga as a meditative substitute.

Guests will be happy to learn that the in-house movie theater and Candytopia exhibit have also reopened with 25% capacity.

"We miss our shopping big time," said Casey Fagan from South Philadelphia.

On the other hand, the Fashion District will be missing the fan-favorite Century 21 store, considered to be an anchor for the entire shopping mall.

"It's sad. It's disappointing. We know that our shoppers loved it," said Sarah Frank.

The bargain chain announced it would shut down after nearly 60 years in business.

Nevertheless, many new businesses are coming to fill the void. Designer Shoe Warehouse and Kate Spade are just two of the stores newly sprinkled on the pallet that Fashion District has to offer.

New mural installations are also on the table. Conrad Benner, the curator of Streets Dept Walls, is happy that the Fashion District is paying artists to bring their hallways to life.

"I believe in the butterfly effect. I think everything we see in the public space affects us in ways that we can understand and in subconscious ways as well," he said.

The future is bright as management continues to iterate upon the foundation built by the Gallery in 1977. Now renovated from head-to-toe, the $420 million investment seems to be bringing much-needed access to Philadelphians.

"Some people who don't have transportation and stuff come here just so they don't have to go out of their way to a mall," said Amirah Cary, assistant manager at GUESS Factory. The mall provides access to SEPTA's Jefferson Station and a concourse that connects to the Market-Frankford Line.

Frank Pantazopoulos sees guests come in and out through his small storefront. His parents created Tiffany's Bakery 43 years ago, which Pantazopoulos now owns. Their business survived the transition from the Gallery to the Fashion District and also survived COVID-19.

"If you have any recollection of the old Gallery, the Fashion District unquestionably saved it," he said.

To learn more about the Fashion District, visit their website.

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