Remember, just a few years ago, it seemed like Wawa didn't love us anymore? The iconic local convenience store/spiritual experience closed multiple downtown locations, and it seemed like Wawa was focused on growing their presence in the 'burbs with supersized locations that included gas stations. The last few years we've seen a major pivot, as Wawa has come back to Center City in a big way. They've opened a new location on Broad Street. Additional locations are coming soon at 13th & Chestnut and 22nd & South. And there are surely some others that aren't springing to mind.
Today, we got word of yet another Wawa location that's coming soon, at the corner of 12th & Market. The Wawa will fill the corner space in the 2nd apartment tower of East Market, a project which has been rising over the bones of the zombified Snellenburg's department store for the last couple years. We last updated you on this project a couple months ago, when developer National Real Estate Development officially secured financing for this next phase of the project. Construction has progressed well since then, but we're too excited to snap a new photo right now. So we'll just share the image we got a couple months back:
The 1100 block of Chestnut Street was pretty awful for a long time, an extension of the blah retail experience on nearby blocks of Market Street. While the north side of the block remains mostly mired in crapitude, the south side has seen a major transformation, thanks to a significant mixed-use project from Brickstone which wrapped up about a year ago. That projects includes 115 apartments, a City Target location which we explored last summer, and a liquor store. The new residents and businesses have provided new life to this block.
South side of the 1100 block of Chestnut
Immediately next door to the Brickstone project are two vacant buildings that hearken back to the old days for this block. As recently as a couple years ago, 1108 and 1110 Chestnut St. were home to Armand's Sound and Video, along with a nail salon and a cell phone store, but currently they are sitting empty and looking lousy.
The south side of the 1100 block of Market Street has undergone major changes of late, and more are on the way. Dating back to the 1960s, an ugly two-story edifice stood here, the tattered remains of what was once the Snellenburg's department store. In recent decades, a collection of unimpressive retailers operated out of this building, including a dollar store, a toy store, a clothing store, and so on. We were entirely thrilled to see this building demolished a couple years ago in anticipation of the East Market project, an ambitious multi-phase project from National Real Estate Development.
Among Philadelphia development enthusiasts such as ourselves, the empty lots of Center City, which are often used for surface parking, are notorious and well-known. Most of us walk by them frequently shaking our heads at the sight of their untapped potential. So it's with great joy and exuberance that we report that one of the most central of these parcels could soon be redeveloped into a large office tower. 1301 Market St., now a tidy and incredibly centrally located parking lot, is reportedly under contract to be bought by Oliver Tyrone Pulver, a firm known these days for its development of office space in Conshohocken. The parcel has been owned by real estate investor Samuel Rappaport since the 1970s. Take a look at what the lot looked like back in 1960, thanks to the magic of Phillyhistory.
Great old buildings
There's no clear online evidence of how these buildings met their end but we've heard that Rappaport tore them down to make the property "more marketable for redevelopment" in the 1990s. If that's the case, it's indeed a shame because these buildings would probably be celebrated historic structures if they still existed today. That said, we can't live in the past and we're glad the property is finally being considered for redevelopment.
For at least the last decade, the streetscape of the north side of the 1200 block of Walnut Street was interrupted by a surface parking lot which stretched all the way to Sansom Street and wrapped around the fabulous Fergie's Pub. Several years ago, developers came up with a plan to redevelop this parcel into a thirty-story building with a combination of apartments and a hotel. But then the bottom fell out on the real estate market in 2008, scuttling that plan and many others around town.