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City Planning Commission Approves Whole Foods Relocation Plan

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The proposal to relocate the Whole Foods Market a block away from its current location in the Art Museum area has been approved by the City Planning Commission. But even supporters say they'll have to work on traffic concerns, when it opens in 2017.

Design architect Jim Voelzke promises to create a "lively and vibrant storefront and street scene" along Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Streets, between 21st and 22nd Streets.

"We've worked for Whole Foods for 20 years now and probably done 45 stores," Voelzke said.

The mixed-use development would be anchored by a 63,000 square foot grocery store. Plus there would be nearly 300 residential units above the store oriented toward the Ben Franklin Parkway, with parking spots below grade for Whole Foods customers, and residential parking places in an above ground garage.

But Ed Panek of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association says they'll have to mitigate traffic tie ups, which are present right now, especially at 21st and Hamilton Streets, near the nearby Wawa.

"We hope to resolve that issue, but we're not there yet," Panek said.

The project would be 10 stories high, a far cry from a previous developer's unsuccessful attempt to build a 47-story Barnes tower there.

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