The long-vacant lot at that runs southeast from the intersection of Reed Street and Christopher Columbus Blvd. has had a pretty wild life, at least as far as long-vacant lots go. Historically, this enormous property was used for a variety of industrial purposes, with a sugar refinery and a train yard being the primary uses. It’s been vacant for over a quarter century, but it’s probably most commonly known as the Foxwoods site, remembered for the casino that was planned here back in 2006.

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Blurry rendering of the old Foxwoods proposal

Community pushback ultimately sank that plan, and a few different redevelopment plans have come down the boulevard, if you will, in the years since Foxwoods officially fell through. And plans are seemingly still in flux, as the mixed-use project on the eastern section of the property is not yet underway and plans for a Super Wawa have met a similar fate similar to Foxwoods. But fee-fie-foe-fum, we do see a Giant on the northwest quadrant of the site, marking the first signs of progress for a property that’s been stuck in the proverbial mud for years.

Over 800 units and 38K sqft of commercial in newest proposal
The view of the site in the past, not exactly teeming with excitement
Current view of Giant from S. Columbus Blvd.
View from parking area on opposite side of building

While we were checking things out, we thought to ourselves why not get a little shopping done, too? This is one of the many Giants that have been going up around the city, with their Heirloom Market concept having just opened at 8th & Market in the Fashion District. We have to say, we were impressed with the size, cleanliness, and the wide aisles, but why don’t you see for yourself?

Produce section upon entry
Beer and wine section, not that we were looking...
Some wide aisles. What is this, South Jersey?

A grocery store is without question a huge benefit to the neighborhood, however this project doesn’t exactly align with the spirit of the approach called for in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s guide to thoughtful development along the waterfront. This is indeed a very auto-oriented project, as the street-facing side of the building is functionally a blank wall – the building can only be entered from the back. While there is a pedestrian path under construction along Columbus Blvd., we noticed that charging stations for electric vehicles were already fully up and running.

A work-in--progress on S. Columbus
Electric vehicle charging station conveniently located
View from back of parking lot looking east towards the river
Materials staged on the south side of site, where the Wawa was proposed

We hope that the next phases for this site better suit the future of a walkable Columbus Blvd. corridor, especially given the proximity to the Delaware River Waterfront Trail, which continues to progress. The blank canvas surrounding this site sure would look good with some attractive mixed use buildings and hundreds of new residents. Fortunately, we see that the City issued building permits at the end of last year for the mixed-use project on the eastern section of the site, so we’re hopeful that we’ll soon see construction here and some sweet new views like this:

Project rendering

Of course, building permits aren’t quite as reliable an indication of upcoming construction as they once were. Remember, the tax abatement changed at the end of last year, prompting many developers to pull permits before 2022 to take advantage of the full abatement and avoid a construction tax. So we will cross our fingers and hope to see this project break ground at some point this year, while recognizing that it’s also possible that the extended vacancy at this property could drag on for a few more years.