Center City's Public Ledger building was bought for $58 million by a New York investor who wants to revamp the historic high-rise at Sixth and Chestnut Streets and fill its bottom story with retailers.
Abdi Mahamedi, CEO of Carlyle Development Group, said he hoped the shops would attract high-end office users to the building's upper stories and enliven the surrounding streets.
"We want to make it an environment with cool tenants," Mahamedi said. "You cannot have cool tenants if you do not have cool retail."
The makeover would be the latest attempt to enliven the neighborhood around the Independence Mall historic area.
A La Colombe coffee shop opened last week in new retail space at Dow Chemical Co.'s office building a block away, and Brandywine Realty Trust is considering new construction at a nearby parking garage it owns.
New York-based Carlyle bought the 12-story Public Ledger building on July 2 from LNR Partners, which took over the property after its last owner defaulted.
Carlyle previously renovated the former Woolworth Department Store at 1330 Chestnut St., where tenants now include a Lucky Strike bowling alley and the West Elm furniture store.
The 534,000-square-foot Public Ledger building is about 88 percent leased, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate services firm.
Its current ground-floor tenants include a tourism center, a kidney dialysis clinic, and the Center City District, a business-promotion agency. The U.S. General Services Administration is the main office tenant at the 1927 building, built for the long-defunct Public Ledger newspaper.
Carlyle also planned to redo the building's offices with open floor plans and other contemporary touches to target technology and entertainment companies, Mahamedi said.
The redevelopment will take up to five years, because some tenants still have time on their lease, he said: "We're going to talk to them to see if anyone wants to relocate. Our goal is to develop something that would anchor the neighborhood."