Shepp boutique moving on up to Chestnut St.

Live models helped open Joan Shepp's temporary store at the Shops at Liberty Place in September. The move to Chestnut is planned for mid-spring.
Live models helped open Joan Shepp's temporary store at the Shops at Liberty Place in September. The move to Chestnut is planned for mid-spring. (ELIZABETH WELLINGTON / Staff)
Posted: January 09, 2014

Joan Shepp will finally have her display windows.

The longtime Center City boutique owner signed a 10-year-lease Friday that will give her same-named designer women's boutique a permanent home at 1811 Chestnut St., the commercial space of the historic Belgravia condominiums.

Shepp will probably move into the 9,200-square-foot, two-story space by mid-spring. Until then, she will stay in her temporary second-floor store at the Shops at Liberty Place, where she relocated from her longtime space on Walnut Street late last year.

"I needed to be on the street," Shepp said, referring to the foot traffic she needs to help her business survive. "This is going to be wonderful, because it is easy for people to see. We are going to really be able to display our assortment well."

In her new space, Shepp will be across the street from Boyds Philadelphia and one block west of Knit Wit, her nearby neighbor from Walnut. Shepp's move to the new building is more proof that Chestnut is replacing Walnut (where most national chains land) as the home for Philadelphia's independent boutique owners, as well as a new fashion hot spot.

In late November, upscale man-bag company Blue Claw Co. opened at 1822 Chestnut. In addition, in the last few months, American Eagle announced it would take over the former Victoria's Secret space at 1721 Chestnut, and the Japanese fast-fashion company Uniqlo will move into the former Art Institute Building at 1608 Chestnut.

The new Joan Shepp will be in the former space of Urbia Mattresssave, which closed more than a year ago and had replaced Somnia Furniture. Bundy Computer and a vacant storefront that was once a Dollar Plus Store sandwich the new Joan Shepp space.

"We hope that more stores will come to that area," Shepp said. "We are very excited."

The 1811 space was the first one Shepp considered more than a year ago, when she learned that a rent increase would force her to move from her storied 1616 Walnut St. location, she said.

At the time, the Belgravia Condominium Association was involved in a lawsuit that accused the building's developers and engineers of failing to disclose to buyers that there were structural defects at 1811 Chestnut.

The Belgravia Condomium Association took ownership of the commercial space in late November, according to Brett Berman, the association's president. Shortly after, the association reached out to Shepp and her daughter, Ellen, to see whether they were still interested.

The Shepps submitted building permits to the city Tuesday.

Once approved, Berman said, Stuart A. Rosenberg Architects will begin an overhaul of the exterior, including new, 15-foot display windows.

"I have a home," Shepp said. "It's going to be great."



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