Thanks in part to a $2.75M redevelopment assistance grant from Governor Corbett, it seems that Mantua will be getting a new supermarket in the next couple of years. Termed “Westview Plaza” by development partner Aquinas Realty Partners, this project has the potential to transform a depressed section of a neighborhood that hasn’t had a supermarket for decades. This project will combine lots that stretch over four city blocks (!), encompassing the northern side of the 3600-3700 blocks of Haverford Ave., both sides of the 3600-3700 blocks of Mount Vernon St., and most of the southern side of the 3600-3700 blocks of Wallace St.

The rendering below is a preliminary site plan from the Aquinas website.

Plan is probably different already

A parking lot seems to cover the majority of this suburban pad-site retail center, with a privately owned supermarket taking up a large chunk of space as well. A couple of other retail locations are also included in the plan, though we hear that these have been eliminated since this site plan was put together. While a supermarket is obviously sorely needed here, is a humungous parking lot really the highest and best use for all that land?

Aggregating the lots would intuitively seem like the biggest challenge for this project. While much of the land that this shopping center would include is currently vacant, there are still a number of residents that would be displaced by this project. How the developer and/or the RDA intends to deal with this issue could ultimately determine whether this project sinks or swims. As you can see from the aerial map, there will be plenty of work to do on this issue.

Plenty of vacant land, but several occupied buildings, too.

Looking west at 36th and Haverford. Lots of vacant land, but plenty of buildings too

On Wallace St., looking south down 37th St. Same story as above.

Community groups, Drexel University, City Council and the state of PA have all been extremely supportive of this project. According to the Aquinas website, the project will kick off this spring and wrap up about a year later. We’re guessing that timeline will be pushed back, since the land acquisition process has, to our knowledge, not yet begun.

Full disclosure: OCF Realty is the parent company of OCF Holdings and Naked Philly. OCF Holdings owns two lots on the corner of 37th and Haverford Streets, which fall within the footprint of this project.