As you’ve surely noticed over the last decade, Wawa has been making a steady trek away from the corner store model that we’ve come to know and love over the years, and toward a suburban concept, including the sale of reasonably priced gasoline. While that’s well and good for our parents and lame friends in the suburbs, it’s made for a disappointing situation in Center City, where we’ve seen Wawa locations disappear from 17th and Walnut, 20th and Chestnut, and 20th and Locust just to name the locations in the Rittenhouse neighborhood. And when we saw the Wawa at 1701 Arch St., in the under-construction Robert Morris Building close down a few months ago, you can imagine we were skeptical of the announced plans that the store was simply experiencing “renovations.”
But as a story from last week’s Inquirer tells us, the renovations story was the truth, and the store has reopened. And it is very much renovated.
This new Wawa takes the roomy suburban model that the company has been moving toward, and brings it to the city (sans gas, of course). The store is nearly 5,000 sqft in size, with a focus on prepared foods. Compared to the old store, this new one feels spacious and open.
The design will apparently be a template for Wawa as it expands into Florida (a place that loves both hoagies and gasoline, natch). Hopefully, this store will also be a template for future Center City locations- the only problem is finding enough space at the right location. On that note, we are hearing rumblings that Wawa is one of the tenants being discussed for Southstar Lofts (nee Casa Verde), the new Dranoff property that will soon be breaking ground at Broad & South.
C’mon Dranoff, gotta lease to Wawa!