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Wawa won’t give up on third store for Conshohocken

3/10/2014 | Real Estate Blog

For a borough with a mere 7,800 residents, Conshohocken could be flattered or insulted that Wawa is still trying to build a store in the middle of town. It would be the third Wawa in the area: There is a Wawa at either end of town as well. The town covers just about one square mile of Montgomery County, and a lot of that is water.

Privately owned and based in Pennsylvania, Wawa Inc. has wanted to build on a vacant car lot in Conshohocken since 2010. The last plan was for a “superstore” — that is, a larger store with gas pumps. The town council voted that down last spring. Wawa quickly came back with a proposal for a smaller store (less than 5,000 square feet) designed to fit in with the neighborhood.

The proposal has run into opposition again and has come up against some administrative challenges as well. Residents groups and business groups alike think the store is a bad fit for the community Conshohocken has become. Neither side has been able to make a case to the zoning board, though, because all five members must be present and, it seems, their schedules have not matched for months.

On the plus side, even those opposed to the plan admit that the vacant lot is an eyesore. They would also welcome the new jobs and, yes, cheaper gas. But, again, says one long-time resident, the convenience store does not blend with the town’s evolution from a mill town to the fashionable, pedestrian-friendly enclave it is now.

There is also some concern that rezoning for the Wawa would allow other convenience stores to come in, chains that are perhaps not the good citizens that all agree Wawa is. Adding the gas pumps, too, poses a threat to all the work the town has done to become pedestrian-friendly, to have a walkable town center dotted with upscale restaurants. There is fear, too, that a Wawa will stifle mom-and-pop stores, cutting into the character of the community. Residents worry that their property values will decline.

So, while Wawa believes it is doing its best for the community, many members of the community are plagued by the thought that you won’t be able to swing a dead cat in Conshy without hitting a Wawa. If the zoning board can find a time to meet, the debate should be lively.

Source: CSN Philly, “‘Super’ Wawa Zoning Meeting Delayed,” Feb. 27, 2014