April 11, 2017
The University of Pennsylvania and Acme Markets have confirmed plans to replace the existing Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut streets with a new supermarket that will include a Starbucks.
A final decision on the property comes after several months of conflict between the university and Fresh Grocer, which occupied the building for 15 years and had hoped to renew its lease. The university said Fresh Grocer failed to do so in a timely fashion, giving Penn the opportunity to select Acme based on a Request for Proposals. A flyer campaign and petition to mobilize students in Fresh Grocer's defense ultimately failed to persuade the university.
“We are delighted to welcome ACME to our growing retail lineup, anchoring 40th Street as a welcoming and attractive neighborhood shopping corridor,” said Anne Papageorge, Penn's vice president of facilities and real estate services. “ACME’s commitment to delivering an excellent all‐around experience for our shoppers aligns with Penn’s commitment to providing a high‐quality grocery store to the residents of University City, including the campus community.”
For the renovation, Acme plans a multimillion-dollar investment in the 34,500-square-foot space, located at 4001 Walnut St. Plans include a sushi and noodle bar, a guacamole station and a beer and wine shop.
In the interim, the university said it would work with the surrounding community to provide alternative access to products and services disrupted by the transition. Acme will join a cinema, restaurant and other retail shops surrounding the Rotunda along Penn's 40th Street Corridor.
“We’re excited about our new partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and look forward to welcoming our University City, West Philadelphia and Center City neighbors to our new location,” said Dan Croce, Acme Markets president. “From the product selection to the design and layout of the new store, our goal will be to provide our customers with a fresh, full, friendly, and clean shopping experience.”
A university spokesperson explained that a timeline for Acme to take over the building remains unclear. Penn had notified Fresh Grocer that its lease would expire March 31 and that it would have to vacate the property by that date. Fresh Grocer, which remains open for business, rejected Penn's position on the status of the lease.
"Penn will continue ongoing legal proceedings to enforce the lease and enable the new operator, Acme, to begin renovations to the market space," the spokesperson said.