Updated 7:40 a.m.
Center City is getting a Trader Joe’s. Yes, there’s been one for years at the edge of downtown, but this one is even more central — and it’s very close to launch.
Located across from the Pa. Convention Center at at 1324 Arch St., in a building that houses a parking garage in the upper floors, the new supermarket is about a mile away from its sister store at 22nd and Market.
Regular customers know Philly’s original Trader Joe’s is almost constantly busy, and appearances suggest the company is preparing for a crush of business at the new outpost as well.
A view through the front windows shows at least a dozen cash registers fronting the market floor. It also shows baby blue walls and tons of blond wood, a signature for the California-headquartered chain.
The location was first reported back in January by the Inquirer, which last week got a TJ’s spokesperson to confirm an October opening date.
“Now hiring” signs have been spotted in the windows, and the Trader Joe’s website lists the location as “coming soon.” A flurry of construction permits pulled by building owner Realen Convention Center over the past month — electrical, signage, plumbing, etc. — also point to an impending launch.
When the doors are thrown open, Trader Joe’s will contribute to the increasingly developed retail and residential scene just east of City Hall, which had long struggled with revitalization after the Vine Street Expressway and Convention Center were glommed across its regular sidewalk grid.
Nearby Chinatown continues to hum with a vibrant collection of independent businesses, and Reading Terminal Market, at 12th and Filbert, has for more than a decade been a booming shopping, eating and tourist destination.
Now there’s also the East Market mixed-use complex, which is home to a Mom’s Organic Market, plus other restaurants and more than 300 apartments. And Fashion District Philadelphia, the much-hailed revamp of the Gallery mall, is just a half-mile away.
According to the Inquirer, the available space at the new Trader Joe’s location is just under 16,000 square feet. If the food retailer uses most of it, the new store will be just slightly larger in size than the Schuylkill-side location.
It will join a continuing supermarket boom in Philadelphia. Sprouts opened in South Philly last year; Giant is planning three additional city outposts of its “Heirloom Market” concept that launched in January; and Aldi’s is bringing a giant, 25,000-square-foot shopping center to Broad and Ridge behind the Divine Lorraine.