Future generations of young Philadelphians may no longer have I. Goldberg Army & Navy on Chestnut Street for the military jackets, chunky boots, and other fashion choices their parents wish they wouldn't make.
Unable to afford a rent increase at its current 1300 Chestnut St. home, the iconic Philadelphia military surplus, work clothes, and outerwear emporium is seeking a new location - nearby, it hopes - for when its lease expires late next year.
The 97-year-old business is finding itself on the losing end of Center City's brightening real estate fortunes, as rising demand for retail space enables landlords to seek ever-higher rents.
"I don't want to leave the location, but our business is what it is," president and third-generation owner Nana Goldberg said Tuesday. "I certainly hope we haven't just been priced out of the market."
I. Goldberg isn't the only casualty of central Philadelphia's rising profile as a hub of commercial and residential development.
There are plans to redevelop the Rittenhouse Square-area site long occupied by the beloved Little Pete's diner into a boutique hotel. Rising real estate values also were cited by the owners of the 104-year-old Snockey's Oyster & Crab House south of Center City when they closed their business.
I. Goldberg is being squeezed from two directions.
To the south are the trendy restaurants and pricey boutiques of the so-called Midtown Village corridor along 13th Street. Retail rents along that stretch have surged 128 percent, to about $57 a square foot, since 2005, according to the real estate services firm CBRE. To the east are large-scale developments that include a Target set to open less than two blocks away.
The store's landlord, PMC Property Group, is said to be seeking about $600,000 a year for the space, which includes a basement and second floor, according to CBRE senior vice president Larry Steinberg, who is not involved in the listing.
PMC did not respond to a message left Tuesday.
Nana Goldberg declined to discuss how much she had been paying under the terms of her current lease, which will expire in October 2017, saying only that the rent now being sought was "exponentially higher."
The space, formerly Blum's department store, can demand particularly high rents because it's on a corner, Steinberg said. Goldberg may be able to find a less desirable location nearby, but not for long, he added.
"She can still get a deal today, but in three to five years, that's not going to be the case," Steinberg said. "The national companies have moved in and are driving the rents up."
I. Goldberg began as a merchant of work clothes and other dry goods around 1919 near Fourth and Market Streets, Nana Goldberg said. It later moved to a sprawling commercial property at 902 Chestnut St., where it remained until its ouster in 2002 so that land could be developed for parking.
Over the years, the company boosted its inventory to include military surplus items from around the world, diverse lines of boots and work wear, and technical outdoor gear.
Past generations of high-school-age aspirational bohemians purchased their uniform of military parkas, Dr. Martens boots, and pocket T's from I. Goldberg's shelves. But the store also has become one of the region's main outlets for brands such as Carhartt, Columbia Sportswear, and Woolrich, Goldberg said.
"We're a store for the common person," she said. "This isn't Tiffany & Co. We're not selling expensive jewelry. We're selling basic clothing at good value."
Goldberg said she hadn't spoken with PMC about her lease yet, having learned the landlord was seeking another tenant from real estate contacts who received an e-mailed listing on the space.
CBRE's Steinberg said he's rooting for her being able to stay in Center City.
"You don't want it to be a shopping-mall downtown," he said. "You want color and a local experience. And where else are you going to get Israeli army fatigues?"