The wait is over, Chestnut Hill. At long last, The Fresh Market grocery store at 8208-8218 Germantown Ave. will open its doors on Jan. 27.
It is the first Philadelphia location for the specialty grocery chain, which has four other stores in Pennsylvania.
“We are always on the lookout for markets where shoppers have a passion for great food like we do, and the Chestnut Hill neighborhood is just such a place,” said The Fresh Market’s marketing manager, Katie Georges.
The market occupies 21,000 square-feet of the ground level retail space in Bowman Properties’ new mixed-use building, sitting behind the five-story section that fronts Germantown Ave. containing the 20 condominium units of One West.
The store also brings 90 jobs to the area, most of which have been local hires.
“I can’t show enough enthusiasm,” said Will Detweiler, President of the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA), adding, “I think it will be good for residents and all of the merchants by making Germantown Avenue a stronger shopping corridor.”
A long time coming
The four-year saga to bring the market to Chestnut Hill began in 2011 when Bowman Properties, owner of the building, sought zoning changes for the property which gained approval by the city the following year.
But near neighbors and developer, Richard Snowden squared off on those changes as well as the project’s footprint, height, building materials, construction process and retail use.
CHCA played an integral role in mediating an agreement between the parties during the planning phase and has continued to monitor construction which began two years ago with the demolition of the long vacant Magarity Ford dealership.
Plans for the market’s ample off-street parking ultimately changed the direction of Hartwell Lane from westbound to eastbound and a traffic light was added at the street’s intersection with Germantown Avenue.
Work continues on the $30 million project with an anticipated completion date for spring 2016. The first condominiums were sold in September.
One of the earliest opponents to the idea of The Fresh Market locating in Chestnut Hill was Weavers Way. Back in 2011, then-general0manager, Glenn Bergman, estimated that the supermarket could take away 30 percent of the business at the co-op’s Chestnut Hill store.
Jon Roesser, Weavers Way current general manager says the co-op is not planning on cutting back staff, but that could change if there is a significant loss in sales. The 8424 Germantown Ave. store is as prepared as it can be to face competition from its new neighbor, located just two blocks south, he noted.
“I think our prepared foods are superior and the local angle is huge to us. A big corporation can’t do local the same way we can,” Roesser said.
Thomas Weaver, owner of Neidermyer’s Poultry, located directly across the street inside the Market at the Fareway says he’s not concerned about losing customers to the new supermarket. On the contrary, he believes the store will bring more folks to his market stand.
“It works well for our existing customers, who can shop there for other items they need,” Weaver said.
CHCA is anxious for the new grocery market to become part of the community by supporting the organization, the Chestnut Hill Business Association and activities at the historical society, Detweiler said.
Grand opening event
A grand opening celebration is planned for Jan. 27, with doors opening at 8 a.m. The first 1,000 customers will receive a free reusable shopping bag and a sample of the company’s coffee. There will also be food tastings, chef demonstrations and drawings for The Fresh Market gift cards.