Last summer, we wondered about 1000 W. Girard Ave., a large property that was home to the Althea Gibson Community Education and Tennis Center for about a decade. This place was an amazing neighborhood resource while it was around, teaching tennis and simultaneously creating a safe space for kids. Sadly, funding dried up and the community center closed in 2013. Developers purchased the property a year later, paying a very reasonable $1.5M for the acre-sized parcel.
We told you previously that these developers had built a row of high-end row homes on the 600 block of Poplar Street a few years ago, so we suspected that they would be looking at some kind of residential project for this property. High end homes for sale didn't seem like the optimal approach for this location, though. While the blocks immediately to the south are pretty much all PHA-owned low income housing, the property is located close enough to Temple University that a student housing development, probably with a bit of height and density, felt like the right approach. But oh how wrong we were.
It turns out, there's a zoning application out there for a purely commercial development here. The language is a wee bit confusing, calling for the "demolition of all structures on site, and for the erection of two detached structures… for use as vehicle fueling station and retail sale of food, beverages, and groceries within a detached structure, with seventeen accessory surface parking spaces…" We're pretty sure this means the plans call a gas station and an associated convenience store. But wow, doesn't this seem like a huge parcel for a city gas station? On the very next block, a similarly sized parcel is home to a (not very good) shopping center with roughly a dozen stores. What kind of gas station needs over an acre of land?
We can only think of one, and it's Wawa.
Please know that this is pure speculation, that it comes without any inside knowledge, and that we could be totally wrong.
But you heard it here first- Wawa gas station for 10th & Girard!
Or… maybe not.