Monday, December 29, 2014

Wawa gets approval to expand DelCo HQ

Borough Council unanimously approved the proposed expansion of Wawa Corporation’s Red Roof headquarters at a sparsely-attended public hearing last week.

The hearing was the first official business conducted in the newly-renovated Chester Heights municipal office.

Three borough ordinances were amended during Monday’s meeting to allow construction of four buildings on the 26-acre corporate campus. The new structures will include an 11,260-square-foot, two-story storage building, a 1,500-square-foot salt shed, multi-level parking garage, and the Annex 5 office building.

The recent acquisition of the 4.3-acre Robinson property on the east side of the campus will lead to demolition of the existing residence and garage, then construction of the storage building and salt shed. The Robinson property will also be utilized for stormwater management and on-site septic disposal purposes.

The new parking garage will have two underground levels and three above ground. Of the total of 557 parking spaces, 525 will be dedicated to employees, while the rest will be handicapped- or van-accessible. The garage will have multiple access points, including a skywalk connecting to Annex 5.

Sitting atop the parking garage will be a new innovation and design center, which will include a test kitchen. The design center will feature a glass curtain wall to utilize natural sunlight.

The 98,000-square-foot Annex 5 office building will be located directly behind the Red Roof mansion and next to Annex 1 and 2. The height of both Annex 5 and the parking garage/design center will not exceed the height of the Red Roof mansion.

The additional office space will allow 212 Wawa employees, who are now occupying rented space at the old Franklin Mint complex, to join the rest of the Red Roof staff. The influx of employees will bump the number of Red Roof employees from the current 515 to over 700. By the end of build-out in 2024, Wawa expects the total Red Roof headcount to be closer to 900.

According to Wawa’s traffic Engineer Matthew Hammond, the additional workers on site should generate about 150 more vehicles at the Red Roof Drive entrance on Baltimore Pike at peak traffic hours.

To accommodate the additional cars, Wawa is petitioning PennDoT to extend the southbound Route 1 left-turn stacking lane from its current 85-foot length to 225 feet, while re-timing the traffic signal to give employees more time. PennDOT would not need to take any property or additional right-of-way along the pike to make the requested turn-lane extension, Hammond noted.

Prior to the borough’s formal hearing, the Wawa expansion plan was reviewed by the Chester Heights Planning Commission and the Delaware County Planning Department, with both advisory bodies recommending plan approval.

According to Wawa Attorney Joseph Damico, a total of 29 nearby residents were directly notified of the Wawa plan, and no objections were raised.

Of the three residents that attended the hearing, only Wawa neighbor Robert Benz asked questions, expressing concerns over stormwater runoff and potential traffic problems on Baltimore Pike.

The lack of opposition led Councilman Patrick Patterson to second the first of three motions for conditional approval.

“This information is very thorough, and we’ve all been privy to a lot of this on an ongoing basis here,” Patterson said prior to the vote. “Based on the fact that our planning commission and the county planning commission, and everyone else who has reviewed this professionally, has not found any fault, and in light of the fact that the neighbors and others and the questions presented here tonight were satisfied, I’m happy to provide a second.”

Chester Heights Council Vice President Frederick Wood abstained from all council approval votes, as he is a retired Wawa employee.

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