Wawa heads to the Boulevard

Demolition of the Shenandoah Shutters building in full swing about two weeks ago. Photo by Katie Demeria.

Crews demolish the former Shenandoah Shutters building on Boulevard in February 2015. Photo by Katie Demeria.

J.F. Williams III isn’t waiting around to find out the fate of The Diamond.

The local developer and retired commercial real estate broker has signed a deal to bring a Wawa location to 3100 N. Boulevard, on the razed site that once housed Bill’s Barbecue.

Williams said Wawa has agreed to a long-term lease for 1.44 acres at Ellen Road and North Boulevard. He owns an additional 1.5 acres at 3108 N. Boulevard, where Shenandoah Shutters’ facility once stood.

“It’s really the first new development north of the bridge (on North Boulevard), and I think it’s significant in that regard,” he said.

The Wawa is planned to be open before the end of the year and will be similar to the one on Staples Mill Road near Interstate 64, Williams said.

He bought the Bill’s Barbecue site in 2013 for $1.2 million. In 2014, he and a partner paid $1.3 million for four adjacent parcels, which are still available for lease.

Wawa has 25 locations already open in Richmond, according to its website. The Pennsylvania-based company could not be reached for comment.

Williams’ Wawa deal comes as the debate surrounding the future of North Boulevard and The Diamond ramps up. Mayor Dwight Jones’ office has scheduled six public meetings to get feedback from residents about how best to use the 60 acres of city-owned land around the aging baseball stadium.

Despite The Diamond being in limbo, North Boulevard has seen its share of activity in recent months. Local developer Ed Lacy bought the shuttered North Boulevard Car Pool property in December and is looking to lease it. Chris Tsui and his Eat Restaurant Partners recently opened a burger spot at 1300 N. Boulevard, and local ice cream maker Gelati Celesti announced it is opening a storefront at 1400 N. Bouelvard.

Williams said whatever happens, he believes in the potential of the area.

“It’s going to happen one way or the other,” he said. “We’re anxious to know what ‘mixed-use’ means and who the developers are.”

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8 Comments on "Wawa heads to the Boulevard"

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Matt Sargent
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This is a terrible idea. The LAST thing the Boulevard needs is a gas station on a prominent corner. This is a deeply anti-urban gesture and the reason we need real zoning changes for this area. Gaps in the urban facade are an affront to the city. Building in the city is a privilege and people need to start understanding their responsibility for the life of the city. Taxpayers support the roads, the sidewalks, the gas lines, the police and the fire departments as a result land owners are duty bound to acknowledge their debt to the city. This developer… Read more »
Brian Glass
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Memo to City Hall…… Let the private sector determine the future of the Boulevard…. Scott’s Addition and Manchester are two recent examples of what can be done !

It’s not about getting Federal Grants for phase ! and Phase !! of Main Street Station that makes projects viable. It’s about what the market requires, and I don’t mean the Farmer’s Market!

Brian Ezzelle
Guest

Looks like a great place for the Boulevard and I95 exit ramp panhandlers to congregate around….

Chris Miller
Guest
For those that don’t like this idea, please get proactive and involved with groups trying to bring real planning to this area. It’s the gateway to the city road and having a plan plus (yes gas stations) done well, like Wawa… IS what the area demands. It’s highly traveled and will actually bring a now desolate empty street to activity and activity breeds value and worth. Putting your head in the sand, solves nothing. I applaud this developer / investor and brand for moving forward. I wish I had had the coin$ to purchase this year’s ago; just like the… Read more »
Chris Miller
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Brian Glass
Guest

In response to Matt Sargent. WAWA is more than a gas station. It is even more than a convenience store. You can get a made to order sandwich at a reasonable price.

My question to Matt is:
If a gas station is ” the LAST thing the Boulevard needs,” at the exit of an interstate highway, what would be the FIRST thing that you would suggest for this location?

Incidentally there are a lot of tax dollars that will flow to the city from the WAWA, meals tax included!

Chris West
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I agree with Brian Glass. And I also agree with every Scott’s Addition and Northside resident who wants the Diamond to remain where it is and be renovated. But think about one of the selling points for keeping the diamond where it is – ease of access by being close to 64/95. Wouldn’t it make sense if you were trying to draw non-local residents to the area to spend money on local businesses that you would want to also offer some basic amenities like an upscale stop for gas, decent food and good coffee? Also think about the simple second… Read more »
Stephen Biggs
Guest

Did this deal fall through?

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