Construction Watch: Clean-Up Is Underway For Nike’s Retail Ode To Jordan, AKA World Of Flight Philly, At 1617 Walnut St

The long-vacant building that fell into disrepair is now getting ready for an EPIC comeback.

The gorgeous and empty for what feels forever (is almost 10 years forever? Asking for a friend) Art Deco building at 1617 Walnut Street is getting ready to be a retail icon as the 1st US-based World of Flight for the Jordan brand.

UPDATE June 8th: Cleanup is going well! The space was deserted for so long. The crew has been busy removing all the debris, and they’re making progress, even though it doesn’t look like it.

Now, back to our updates from May…

Buuuut…it’s going to take a bit of time, as you can see from our recent photo. It’s been vacant for almost 10 years since British retailer Jack Wills left. Now that store looked pretty neat if you’re into the British flag and all that.

📷: Yelp

Now, back to 1617 Walnut Street. Free People at 1625 Walnut Street (so a few doors down) was supposed to move in after a NY investor bought the building, however, that clearly fell through as they ended up moving literally across the street to 1632 Walnut, the previous home of bookseller Shakespeare & Co (RIP). Free People, which is also Anthropologie’s little sister, sees serious foot traffic so we’re happy they stayed in the neighborhood. But it could be that they saw the amount of work that needed to be done and bailed (our unproven theory).

The facade has intricate details and is a great example of some of the local Art Deco buildings that are on Walnut Street. The architect’s application to the historical society asked for adjustments to be made for security on the first floor and changes to the second floor to make room for the lighted Jumpman seen in their rendering below.

📷: Nike

Rittenhouse, in our opinion, needed a worthy replacement for Atmos (RIP). Even so, the news that the 1st World of Flight US store that Nike calls the “future of Jordan retail – a destination to celebrate the legacy and future of Basketball culture” was one of the most exciting retail announcements for Philly media, bloggers, sneaker culture enthusiasts, workout girlies, and more. Because there’s a reason Sneaker Con’s East Coast event is held in Philly each year – this is a city that seems women pair their Jordans with their YSL bag, and men wear them on their wedding day.

📷: Nike

Philadelphia as the first US city to have a World of Flight store is not surprising to everyone who knows sneaker culture. Rittenhouse as the neighborhood makes even more sense. It’s somewhat exclusive, with a shopping row – Walnut Street – that features a mix of practical (Madewell) and aspirational, high-end stores such as Tiffany’s, near food spots from famous restauranteurs, such as Starr, Yin, Schulson, and more.

We’re excited about the impending arrival of Jordan’s Philly store because, combined with the soon-to-come Reformation, Aritiza, Levain, and more, it’s clear no one puts Rittenhouse in the corner. We’ll continue to post construction updates so be sure to follow us on social for updates!