South Philadelphia’s auto-centric retail hub, which borders the neighborhoods of Pennsport and Whitman, is set to expand. A new mall at 16 Snyder Ave. will offer a grocery store, fast food chains with outdoor dining and a revamp of a nearby street.
Zoning permits show plans for six commercial buildings, covering more than 52,000 square feet and 269 parking spaces. Documents filed with the city show tenants that include a Lidl discount supermarket, Advance Auto Parts, Chase Bank, Shake Shack and Louisiana fried chicken chain Raising Cane’s. The sixth building has no tenants yet.
The site is currently a rambling industrial complex, bordered on the northeast side by John’s Roast Pork and bordered by a confusing tangle of trash-strewn roads. To the south is an Amazon last-mile delivery center at 2400 Weccacoe Ave., and to the north is a mall with deals including an Acme and a Target.
“We always feel like commercial-use retailers benefit from other retailers in the surrounding neighborhood,” said David Newman, who leads mid-Atlantic operations for the Newman Development Group. (The site is officially developed by NDA Swanson LLC.)
The one-block industrial complex is owned by Inolex Chemical Co., which manufactures ingredients for cosmetics and other personal care products. The company moved its operations to North Carolina for years.
Neighborhood leaders from the Whitman Council are happy to see something new is coming to the Inolex site, which they describe as “an eyesore” which, in its heyday, periodically suffused the neighborhood with noxious odors.
Inolex did not respond to a request for comment.
“They’ve never been the best neighbours,” said Mark Kapczynski, president of the Whitman Council. “The development is a good idea to get rid of this almost vacant chemical plant. But when it comes to the level of retail in our neighborhood, I think we have our share.
According to locals, there are still Inolex office operations based at 16 Snyder Ave., but the days when the company employed many South Philadelphia residents are long gone. Jobs at the cosmetics maker paid well and were organized under Teamsters Local 169. Kapczynski said unionized jobs were one. thing about the company’s presence that he will miss.
“I like the industrial part where you can potentially have jobs that will support families and careers rather than just a cashier at a retail store,” he said.
The developer agreed not to place any nightclubs or “nuisance bars” in the mall, according to zoning attorney Ron Patterson. The site will undergo environmental remediation and Swanson Street will be redeveloped by the Streets Department to suit the new use.
“It’s kind of a weird street right now, wider in some places and narrower in others, and it’s not well maintained,” Patterson said.
Swanson will be replaced with a standard 100-foot-wide right-of-way, including sidewalks, which the road currently does not have, and a storm water management system. Patterson also noted that Raising Cane and Shake Shack will both have outdoor seating.
The project will not require any zoning exceptions as council member Mark Squilla remapped the area earlier this year to allow for industrial or commercial uses.
Separated from residential areas by I-95, this section of South Philadelphia has been increasingly dominated by business interests as industrial businesses have closed or moved out. To the north is Snyder Plaza, home to the Acme and Target. To the southeast is Columbus Commons and its Best Buy and Ikea, while to the northeast is Columbus Crossing with Home Depot and Walmart.
The new mall at the Inolex site is Newman’s first project in Philadelphia. The city is a natural target for expansion, said Newman, whose company operates in several northeastern states.
“There’s so much growth going on,” he said. “We just think it’s so well located, it really is a perfect site for redevelopment. … We think it will be a [strong local consumer] community basis.