Wawa representatives again presented a concept plan to Media Borough Council at Thursday's workshop meeting for a proposed Super Wawa at Baltimore Avenue and Route 252 and several members of council were not in favor of the plan as it stands currently.
Wawa has not yet submitted a formal plan to council or the planning commission. Wawa would need borough council approval to purchase and alter Baker Street, which runs through the proposed Wawa and would need to be altered in order for the project to move forward.
Super Wawa Concept Plan
The possible Super Wawa at the vacant lot bordered by State Street, Providence Road and Baltimore Avenue would include a retail store, 72 parking spaces and a gas station at the 1.73 acre lot.
Robert Linn, Wawa's architect and representative, presented council with the concept plan that also included a decorative brick wall around the property, seating on the Baltimore Avenue side and Media's logo and welcome sign in the decorative wall to showcase the gateway to the borough.
Linn said the Super Wawa would be a 24/7 operation, bring new jobs and the two Wawa's that already exist in the area would remain open. The possible Super Wawa would wrap around Starbucks that sits on the corner and the BP gas station on Providence Road would be removed.
The vacant lot, where the Media Inn formerly sat, is owned by Media Real Estate. And while no formal plan for any business or building has been presented to borough council or the planning commission there has been talk of a 30,000 square foot office building or a Dollar Store also being constructed at the empty lot.
Traffic was the main focus of concern around the possible project.
Wawa's traffic planner Matt Hammond said the traffic a Wawa would bring, would be less than the traffic an office building would bring.
Hammond, who had not yet conducted a formal traffic study, explained that an office building would bring more "new trips" compared to a Wawa, because Wawa generates mostly "passerby trips." Meaning, people who are already driving or passing by, enroute to a destination, will stop at the Wawa but people driving to a new office building or destination that now exists would bring "new" traffic to the area.
Hammond said a preliminary study showed that Wawa would bring 88 new trips (or 44 vehicles) while an office building would bring 112 new trips (or 56 vehicles) to the area during peak rush hour times.
Borough Council President Brian Hall and Councilmen Dr. Eric Stein, Kent Davidson and Monica Simpson each said they were against the concept plan. Councilwomen Monika Rehoric and Dawn Roe each said she was in favor of exploring the plan further and that it deserved more consideration. Councilman Paul Robinson was absent from the meeting.
Hall said he was not impressed with the preliminary traffic study and believed a Wawa would increase traffic.
Hall said Wawa is a great corporation but the quality of the traffic that a Super Wawa would bring does not coincide with the borough's small town ambiance and pedestrian traffic.
He said Wawa customers are in and out of the store quickly and they do not stick around. An office building or store would bring a different clientele and those people may stop and stay for awhile, he said.
Stein said he didn't think Wawa was a good fit for that location because of the already congested intersection.
"It would make a bad situation, worse," Stein said.
Rehoric said she was initially concerned with the traffic issues but was happy to see that Wawa pushed back the vehicle entrances to the property on both Baltimore Avenue and Providence Road.
"I'm not totally opposed to this," Rehoric said. "We are always going to have traffic issues there. Traffic is a nightmare at that intersection. But I'm in favor of exploring this more."
Media Mayor Bob McMahon said Wawa is the best option for the lot that has sat vacant for six or seven years, compared to the possibility of an office building or Dollar Store. However, he said, council has to be satisfied with the traffic issue and the houses directly behind the property would also be a concern.
Davidson pointed out that if a traffic study was done now, it would not be accurate because the approved Hampton Inn, set to be built at Beatty and Providence roads, has yet to be constructed and would likely affect traffic in that area as well.
Roe said her concerns mostly regarded Baker Street but said the concept deserved further consideration.
Baker Street, which runs through the possible Super Wawa, would need to be altered and borough council would need to approve the roadway change in order for the project to move forward.
Baker Street, in the basic sense, dead ends at Manchester Avenue but technically that is not the case. A vehicle can not drive through the intersection of Baker and Manchester. There is a small staircase there, leading to the remainder of Baker Street, which is an alley or parking lot that runs between several houses that face State Street and a strip of stores that face Baltimore Avenue. (See the attached photos).
Wawa is proposing to turn Baker Street at a 90 degree angle, at the end of the row of houses, to run behind the proposed Wawa and on to State Street.
"You'd be trading one alley for another and there is not a lot of activity there now," Linn said during his presentation.
Wawa representatives left the meeting following their presentation and prior to council's discussion. After much council discussion at the meeting, borough council members went in to executive session to discuss the Baker Street issue privately.