With the final paperwork for the Gallery's massive renovation in place, the closing date for the mall's east end is now firm, officials said.

Commuters will lose their indoor shortcut by the close of business Jan. 1, said Kevin Feeley, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust.

PREIT had previously said the empty east corridor, which is used extensively by rail travelers, would close Oct. 2. Procedural delays in the complicated deal caused the extension, but Feeley said the Jan. 1 date was certain.

"There's no great explanation for the delay except that it takes time," Feeley said.

The Gallery had several principal owners, including the city, Feeley noted, and the paperwork involved in the deal "had to be three or four feet thick."

Consider, Feeley said, the length of the Gallery's gestation. The noted city planner Edmund Bacon first envisioned it in the 1950s. It finally opened in 1977.

"The project is still on time, and we're going to be making a number of very exciting announcements over the next several months," Feeley said. "It's going to be a great project for the city."

SEPTA and PATCO commuters will still be able to enter and exit at Jefferson Station and the Eighth and Market station, or through doors to the Convention Center entrance, known as the Reading Terminal Headhouse. The interior mall entrance to the 11th Street subway stop will also remain open.

But the east-end shutdown will surely impact the businesses that remain on the mall's west side. Nearly 9,000 transit riders exit the PATCO station at Eighth and Market daily. Also, 26,000 stream out of SEPTA's Jefferson Station.

The $325 million new venture, to be named the Fashion Outlets, is due to open in 2017 with restaurants and off-price name-brand outlets.

City leaders envision the new-look mall will give new life to the bedraggled stretch of Market from City Hall to Independence Mall.

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