So What’s All This About a Wegmans Coming to Center City?


Let’s just get this out of the way: There is no actual forensic, DNA-firm, hold-up-in-court evidence that Wegmans is coming to downtown Philadelphia. None whatsoever. Reputable, in-the-know sources have scuttled the scuttlebutt, which first popped up last month with the announcement of Bart Blatstein’s proposed development at Broad and Washington (floorplans and more info below, by the way). For instance:

Passyunk Post: “A source who would know, but who required anonymity, told us that in no uncertain terms, Wegmans ‘is definitely NOT coming to Broad and Washington.’

Naked Philly: “So could [Wegmans] really be happening?!?! Unfortunately, our sources tell us that it isn’t. As was the case previously, we’re hearing that the likely tenant will be a Superfresh or a Giant.”

A Wegmans spokesperson — someone called someone! because reporting! — told the Passyunk Post “they have no plans for a location in Philly proper.”

(Speaking of reporting, the most thorough, well-sourced piece on this development is by Bill Chenevert for the South Philly Review.)

As a reputable, in-the-know source myself, I’ll add that my insider contacts also tell me it’s not happening. No, no, no, they say. Wegmans is not coming to the supermarket-tailored space at the Broad and Washington development.

On the other hand, the so-called rumor started with the Twitter feed of one HughE Dillon, who runs PhillyChitChat (and does work for Philly Mag as well). HughE has been doubted many times before, and has been vindicated — even years later, as he’ll tell you himself. He is always one step ahead of everyone. (People might dismiss his intel because he takes party pics and is not a “reporter.” But what do people do at parties? They drink and talk about themselves, that’s what. And HughE is a good listener.)

So there’s the HughE factor. Also, a Wegmans was rumored to come to downtown Philly at least once before, which does matter. That’s how it often happens with things that eventually occur here: they’ll be rumored for years. After all, the rumor that Apple would open a downtown location went unfulfilled for so long, people questioned your sanity if you even mentioned it without an accompanying eye roll. But it did happen.

These things take time, as Bart Blatstein pointed out when we spoke earlier today. I asked if he had any news for all the rumormongers and Wegmans fans about Broad and Washington. “There’s nothing to say,” he said, as he often says. “Not yet. It’s coming together but it’s a little premature.” He likens the process to a puzzle, which makes sense if you look at the rendering, which is kind of LEGO meets Jenga, if Jenga was played horizontally, or Tetris, if Tetris weren’t played on the Cira Centre.

But do keep this in mind: The last time rumors really flew of a Wegmans coming to Philly proper, where was it going to land? The Piazza. Owned by Bart Blatstein.

Between that and HughE, I think we might be able to get the DA to look into this.

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  • Vald Bagina

    if so, the wegmans would suck up all the customers and there would be no point of the Italian market, family shops, etc.

    • Northeaster

      No, the Italian Market would not be killed by Wegmans any more than it was killed by Acme a few blocks away.

      • Vald Bagina

        the only good thing about this wegmans would be a shit load of jobs – and wegmans is a nice asss supermarket

  • Earl J

    Obviously the person with the most to gain and has been tied to incorrect rumors in the past is Blatstein. The same guys who has Smoke and Mirrors opening restaurants at his casino that he is being assumptive in public about. HughE was played buy Bart’s folks to make the location more attractive and valuable to other real suitors.

  • MOberst

    Speaking of reporting, Wegmans isn’t spelled with an apostrophe. You should check that before writing an article about a business.

    • Vald Bagina

      OCD much?

      • Cronmoax

        I mean, standards are important. Online journalism is kind of a joke these days.

      • variable

        I love your handle <3

  • JB

    Giant just opened a store in downtown Washington D.C.

    • Sandy Smith

      That would be Giant (Landover, MD), not Giant (Carlisle, PA) – even though both chains are units of the same Dutch company, Royal Ahold, they are operated separately.

      Before Ahold scooped both up, the Washington-area Giant opened some stores in this area, calling them Super G to avoid confusion with the Giant already doing business here.

      Now, back to the Wegmans rumors in progress: My stock response to them all is, “Who needs Wegmans when you have the Reading Terminal Market?”

      (You’re welcome, Mr. Steinke. :) )

  • HowieGambleChipsAllDay

    Wegmans is the greatest grocery store in the history of mankind. And not at all expensive, as many believe. I wish you luck Philadelphia. You deserve it.

  • variable

    As much as I’d love to have a Wegmans in the city, South Philadelphia doesn’t deserve it.

    • Jon

      U have no clue what south Philly deserves. So go pound sand you ignorant a$$.

      • variable

        Your mom.

  • Tom Williams

    Unlikely Wegmans would even open a downtown/Center City location. I worked for them and opened their Mt. Laurel, NJ store a number of years ago in 2006 and people were asking about it back then, too. Note, they opened Mt. Laurel and Cherry Hill quickly followed . . . that’s about as close as they’ll get to Philly, I believe. The answers we got from Wegmans were that there would never be on in Philly for a few good reasons that I can remember: 1. Wegmans typically buys and owns not only the property that the stores are located on, but also the parking area, too. The reason behind this is because they are a non-union shop and they want to be able to keep picketers off their private property if there is anyone protesting the non-union shop, they can evict them to the perimeter of the property they own. 2. Wegmans requires a crazy amount of space again, not only for the the store (as in 150,000 square feet) but also for the parking lot on top of that. 3. A typical Wegmans would need about 600 full and part-time employees and while Philadelphia might have lots of people who might like to try to work at Wegmans, Wegmans is pretty selective about those they hire — so ones’ desire might not beget the others. 4. Wegmans is all about selling/pairing alcohol to go along with the meal. Mt. Laurel and Cherry Hill in NJ opened without alcohol but Wegmans figured out a way, in each case, to get alcohol very near by under their name. Cherry Hill opened in an adjacent space across from the main store. Mt. Laurel took out part of the old retail space and opened a store within a store. In both cases, the liquor areas are separate from the grocery areas and I believe are owned by different entities than the stores because of NJ liquor laws. PA liquor laws are weirder and worse than NJ and so it would make it difficult for them to open the type of beer, wine, and spirits they’d like to open in such a store in Center City.