It’s official: Convenience store chain wants to build in former Kmart plaza
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — It’s official: Wawa is coming to the former Blackman Plaza off of Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre Township.
Thomas Zedolik, township zoning and code enforcement officer, said he has received drawings from Wawa for a new convenience store/gas station to be built adjacent to the McDonald’s restaurant.
“Yes, we have received the drawings for Wawa,” Zedolik said. “After we review the drawings, I will issue a building permit and then it will be up to Wawa to decide when they will apply for that permit.”
Zedolik said there is no timeline set as to when construction would begin.
Wawa expanding widely
The Delaware County-based chain operates more than 1,000 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C., recently broke ground on its first North Carolina store, and has expansion plans that include Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
Locally there are stores in Carbon and Monroe Counties — and reportedly ones planned for Scranton — but none in Luzerne County at this time. A small, older format Wilkes-Barre store closed many years ago.
The Wilkes-Barre Township plan marks the second potential Wawa eyed for the area in the past year.
In November, the Times Leader reported that Wawa was eyeing a site on Market Street, Kingston on a vacant parcel once occupied by Franconi Auto Parts.
There appears to have been no tangible activity on that proposed site since then.
Known for its hoagies and other freshly prepared food, Wawa has developed something of a cult following.
Other plans for plaza?
He also said he has not received any drawings for what will go in the former Kmart building. It has long been rumored that Aldi’s grocery store is interested in occupying that space.
Zedolik did say that another vacant space next to Rite Aid in the plaza will be occupied by a Luzerne Bank branch office. He said drawings have been submitted for that as well.
The plaza is owned by Union Center Realty LLC and Delaware Land Company LLC.
Last December, we reported a site plan on Union Center’s website showing a “proposed Aldi” label on part of the former Kmart store, with over 61,000 square feet still available in the ex-discount store’s space.
In July 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) began an extensive project along Route 309 at the Blackman Plaza that will accommodate “future post-development traffic volumes to not adversely impact traffic in the surrounding area.”
Jessica Ruddy, Community Relations Coordinator at PennDOT’s District 4 office in Dunmore, said at the time that the purpose of the project is to improve peak hour congestion levels to an acceptable level of service and to reduce crashes.
The Blackman Plaza houses several retail businesses and was formerly anchored by Kmart, which closed in early 2020 and has been vacant since.
Ruddy said the $1.28 million PennDOT project created two new entrance/exit areas to the plaza — one aligned with Johnson Street across Route 309 and PennDOT installed a new traffic light.
The plaza has several retail stores, including Smokin’ Joe’s Tobacco Shop, SJ Beer & Wine, Dollar Tree and Rite Aid.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.