The Philadelphia City Planning Commission unanimously approved a redevelopment proposal for the “eventual development” of a food market in the Mantua Urban Renewal Area in West Philadelphia at its monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon.
As approved, the proposal involves the acquisition of 17 properties—nine of which are currently occupied—in a two-block area bounded by 36th and 37th streets to the east and west, Wallace Street to the north, and Haverford Avenue to the south. It also involves a land-use change to the redevelopment area, re-designating the plot from institutional to primarily commercial.
The current zoning of the properties in question is C2 commercial and R9 and R10 residential, according to Richard Redding, who presented the proposal to the Commission. He said the proposal would eventually require a rezoning of the area.
Redding also pointed out that the proposal for a food market on the plot lines up with several of the goals of the Philadelphia2035 Comprehensive Plan, such as assembling and consolidating parcels, providing access to fresh food, and improving neighborhood walkability. He pointed out that no site plan had been developed yet.
Three public witnesses testified more or less in favor of the proposal. One resident of the area pointed out that there is a need for a grocery store in the neighborhood, saying that the Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut serves a large area of West Philly. He said that other fresh-food options are either inconveniently far away from Mantua or too expensive.
Gabriel Gottlieb, a real estate agent and blogger, said he felt the “demographics are perfect” for a super market in the neighborhood. He said he had seen a preliminary site plan which included a large parking lot, however, and didn’t think parking should be a priority for the market. Alan Greenberger pointed out that any site plans that had been floated were no longer relevant. An earlier redevelopment proposal for a much larger area included a bigger market than the one which is now envisioned, Greenberger said.
Paulette Adams said the neighborhood would benefit from having access to fresh food, but asked the Planning Commission to carefully consider what impact the plan might have in terms of parking and truck traffic. She also requested that the Planning Commission work with the brand new Mantua Civic Association as it develops the site plan.
Richard Redding said that the food market won’t be operational anytime soon. He said that it would take the city one to two years to complete acquisition of the properties in question. The residents of the nine occupied properties—some of whom are also owners—will be entitled relocation assistance from the city.