Wawa is all over the Delaware waterfront this week, and that’s fine. It’s the rest of the year that’s the problem.
For the 10th year, the convenience store chain is the main sponsor of Welcome America, the big birthday bash that Philadelphia puts on to celebrate America’s founding. Like the city itself, the festivities begin on the Delaware and move inland, with a mouthwatering selection of music, food, and fireworks.
Unfortunately, Wawa now seems intent on making its presence on the waterfront a permanent thing. After briefly abandoning the Center City market a few years back, it has made an aggressive return, opening outposts on what seems like every other corner of Chestnut and Walnut Streets. The next frontier appears to be Philadelphia’s Central Delaware.
In a matter of just a few months, Wawa has proposed not one, but two, suburban-style Super Wawa stores along the river, complete with gas pumps and generous amounts of parking. It started its campaign late last year when it focused on a site in South Philadelphia owned by developer Bart Blatstein. Although Blatstein put the plan on hold after receiving intense pushback from the nearby Pennsport neighborhood, the company is steaming ahead with a similar store-and-gas-station combo at Front and Spring Garden in Northern Liberties, a block inland from the water. Knowing Wawa, and its penchant for territorial domination, this looks more like a coordinated strategy than a simple coincidence.
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