The Fresh Grocer on 40th and Market Streets will shut down by the end of March, following a legal battle between the store and The University of Pennsylvania.
The fight was over a leasing agreement that had supposedly ended in 2016. Penn, which acts as the store’s landlord, entered into a 15-year lease with The Fresh Grocer on April 20, 2001, allowing for an option to extend the lease another 15 years. However, the original lease required a 180-day notice of an intent to renew.
The Fresh Grocer sent their renewal request on Feb. 10, 2016, which, according to the lease, was four months late. However, due to initial disputes after their original opening, the original lease was amended on June 28, 2007. According to the Fresh Grocer, the commencement of the lease should have begun when the amendment was adopted, making their lease renewal nearly six years early.
After four years of legal battles over the lease renewal, a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge ruled on Jan. 31, 2019 in favor of the University of Pennsylvania, issuing a summary judgement, meaning that the case would not go to court.
After the Fresh Grocer vacates, the University plans to find a new grocery store tenant. In 2017, Penn announced that an Acme would be replacing the closing supermarket, but as of now, the new tenant is still unconfirmed, although there are plans to fill the spot by the end of the year.
In the meantime, the closest supermarket to 40th and Walnut Streets is the Supreme Shop n Bag on 43rd and Walnut Streets, as well as an Aldi’s on 46th and Market Streets. Additionally, for Drexel students closer to campus, there is also a Giant Heirloom Market on 34th and Market Streets and a Trader Joe’s on 21st and Market Streets. However, after the Fresh Grocer closes, there will be no 24-hour supermarkets in the vicinity of Drexel’s campus.
Additionally, there are six other Fresh Grocer locations throughout the city, although the closest ones are in Grays Ferry and Progress Plaza, which are over two miles from the original Walnut Street location.
Although the loss of this supermarket does not create a food desert for West Philly residents, it will still be a major loss of convenience until a new store can take its place.