While developer Bart Blatstein struggles to gain support for a Wawa convenience store with gas pumps in a zone where filling stations are prohibited on South Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront, another landowner is pushing for a similar plan in a neighborhood to the north.
Ardmore-based U.S. Realty Associates Inc. plans to present its proposal for a so-called Super Wawa on land it owns at the northwest corner of Front and Spring Garden Streets during a Monday meeting of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.
U.S. Realty hasn’t officially applied for permits for the store, envisioned on the ground floor of a planned multilevel parking garage, but would eventually seek community support for a variance from waterfront zoning rules that prohibit gas pumps, the developer’s lawyer, Carl Primavera, said in an interview Friday.
The circumstances echo Blatstein’s proposal for a Super Wawa that’s also planned for land within the Central Delaware Overlay zoning district at Tasker Street and South Columbus Boulevard on part of a large tract where a Foxwoods casino once had been planned.
Opponents of that plan have said it would undermine the zoning overlay’s goal of discouraging vehicle-centric uses on the waterfront, while fostering foot traffic between the waterfront and adjacent neighborhoods. Critics include nearby neighbors and waterfront community groups, as well as the Delaware River Waterfront Corp., which manages waterfront development.
Councilman Mark Squilla, whose district includes Blatstein’s site, said he has written a letter opposing the plan to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which is likely to consider a variance to the waterfront overlay in the coming months after a planned April hearing on the project was continued. Squilla’s district also includes U.S. Realty’s site in Northern Liberties.
Primavera said U.S. Realty’s proposal is part of a larger plan to provide parking for tenants of its Riverview Place office building on the intersection’s southeast corner. The convenience store is being sought as a ground-floor tenant of a roughly four-story parking structure, but the company won’t consider the site if it can’t install gas pumps there, too, he said.
Riverview Place tenants have been parking nearby on the city-owned Festival Pier property, but those spots will soon become unavailable as work begins on redeveloping that site into a new complex of homes, shops, and open space, Primavera said.