The investors backing East Market, a proposed $500 million redevelopment of Market, Ludlow, and Chestnut Streets between 11th and 12th Streets in Center City, have sketched out the first stage of development: two floors of stores topped by 322 apartments rising to 17 stories.

"We're going to create this great place that connects all these neighborhoods - the Convention Center and the hotels to Midtown Village, and City Hall and the office towers to the historic district," said Daniel Killinger, who heads the development arm of Washington-based National Real Estate Advisors, East Market's union-backed lead investor.

Facing Market - "the nation's first Market Street," and the city's longtime hub for mass-market retailers, Killinger said - will be two-story clothing stores behind large, glowing second-floor signs.

Shoppers will enter from the street. The major stores will have 5,000 square feet on the street level, and several times that space on the second floor, Killinger said.

The developers plan a more intimate place along Ludlow Street, where apartment balconies will overlook restaurants and walkways.

"There will be a lot of food and beverage on Ludlow Street, and restaurants, and a small-plan grocer," said Killinger.

Not a sprawling Wegmans-type store. "More in the Trader Joe's vein," he said.

National has joined Philadelphia investors SSH Real Estate and Young Capital Management Inc., and JOSS Realty Partners L.L.C. of New York to commit more than $80 million to the project. They expect Pennsylvania will kick in $7.5 million in matching funds. The developers are recruiting banks to fund the rest of the cost.

The investors hired McDevitt Co., a retail real estate agency whose clients include the chains owned by South Philadelphia's Urban Outfitters Inc., to sign new stores.

The investors are still seeking retailers and restaurant operators. By publishing renderings of how the project is supposed to look, they hope to appeal to potential tenants, for example, at next week's International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

Work is scheduled to begin this summer with demolition of a row of stores on Market Street. Two levels of new stores will front Market along the whole block. The new apartments will rise above the stores at 11th and Market. There is room for a second tower toward 12th Street at some point.

Developers also plan to update the Girard Building offices facing 11th Street and add first-floor retail space, and "reclad" and renovate the warehouse at 34 S. 11th for use as apartments or offices.

Apartment rents are projected to be from $1,500 for small studios to $2,900 for two bedrooms.

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