Store of the Month: A Light in the Piazza

A shining symbol of the metamorphosis of the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia is another project from developer Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments Inc.: the Piazza at Schmidts, which features luxury apartments grouped around a central courtyard, one arm of which is taken up by the historic Schmidt’s brewery building, with upscale shops and restaurants at ground level.

The 80,000-square-foot open-air plaza fosters community spirit through the placement of picnic tables and benches, and special events, as well as a Jumbotron mounted on the wall of the Schmidts building (At the time of PG’s visit, a Judy Garland chestnut, “Till the Clouds Roll By,” was playing, but sportscasts, not surprisingly, are more commonly showcased.)

The development, which opened in May 2009, also collaborates with such area not-for-profit organizations as the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, The Attic Youth Center, Equality Forum, Covenant House Pennsylvania, Salvation Army Philadelphia, and PAWS: Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society

Located literally right down the street from the Superfresh market, the Piazza naturally supplies a steady stream of customers to the store, accounting for much of its walk-in traffic.

“If you ever come by any weekend, you’ll see the Piazza all lit up; there’s music and concerts and all sorts of stuff,” notes A&P’s EVP Tom O’Boyle. “You’ll see more bikes, skateboards, people with strollers, and they really like the elevators --  you can come right up.”

Like its fellow Tower Investments development, the Superfresh at Northern Liberties plans to connect with its surrounding community. “We’re still in our infancy stages,” admits Store Manager Tom Haley. “We’ve had a lot of community groups reaching out to us to help sponsor some different events,” with such items as a gift card donations or bottled water for a special event. We’re trying to be a good community partner, but we’re still new -- we’ve only been here six weeks [at the time of PG’s visit] -- but that’s going to evolve as we build the relationships and go along.”

The Piazza and the Superfresh store are both part of Blatstein’s 28-acre, $500 million Northern Liberties project, said to be the country’s largest private urban-renewal initiative.

To read the November 2011 Store of the Month article, “Taking Liberties” by PG Managing Editor Bridget Goldschmidt, click here.

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