A couple weeks ago someone said to me that if the proposed Wawa fell through, the developers had interest from car dealer Gary Barbera, known for his classy ads such as the one for cash for clunkers pictured above, to move into the space at 11th and Fayette. I didn’t give it much credence, but two factors make me reconsider my initial response to the claim.
The first is that in a memo (download here) dated April 16th, attorney Ross Weiss states the following:
In the event that the current development plan for the Subject Property is not approved, either the developer or E.F. Moore, Inc. intends to expand its current operation with either a new car or larger used car agency and to increase its current service, body shop, and parts departments. Clearly, based on the above facts, and the applicable law, there can be no credible claim that Moore has abandoned its non-conforming use of the Subject Property. Accordingly, CRA’s legal conclusion that the current non-conforming use has been abandoned is without basis in fact or in law, and should be disregarded by the Borough.
The second reason is that one of the developers, Provco, has a relationship with Gary Barbera. The Wawa in Roxborough was also developed by Provco at the space of a former Barbera dealership.
UPDATE – If you read the letter from Whitemarsh we posted earlier, you will see that Whitemarsh questions whether the Moore property has been in continuous use. What does that mean? It means that if it is proven that the Moore property has been in fact abandoned and not in use as a car dealership, the grandfathered in ability to operate a car dealership from that spot has expired. This means if you wanted to operate a car dealership there, you would have to go through zoning or seek a text amendment. So basically, based on what I have been told, it is not as easy as just replacing one car dealer with another at this point. The attorney for the developers, in the memo we shared above, argues that this is in fact not the case and the business has remained operational.
So if the Wawa proposal fails, do not expect a car dealer to move in the next day without some type of process. It is not cut and dry and both sides seem prepping for what will happen next.