Wawa closing 2 Center City stores due to 'safety and security challenges'

Wawa, a Philadelphia staple, announced Thursday it will close two Center City locations due to "continued safety and security challenges and business factors."

"We are very sorry we can’t be there for our friends and neighbors at these two locations, but we continue to serve the community from our other nearby stores and our commitment to the greater region remains strong," a statement read in part. "Philadelphia is our hometown and that’s something that will never change."

In a statement, Wawa said its locations at 12th and Market and 19th and Market will close. An exact timeline of when the stores will permanently close was not provided.

The chain remains hopeful it can repurpose the two defunct locations "to further benefit Philadelphia" and doubled down on its commitment to helping communities around the city grow. Since 2020, at least four Wawas have closed their doors and others have cut their hours. 

The announcement comes amid a rash of crimes at Wawa's across the city, including a recent robbery where an employee was pepper sprayed at store in University City. In a Philadelphia Business Journal report, Philadelphia Councilmember Mike Driscoll suggested Wawa is reconsidering its presence in Philadelphia and could halt expansion due to crime.

When reached for comment by FOX 29's Jeff Cole, Driscoll backed off his comments about Wawa's future in Philadelphia. He claimed that the concerns that he voiced were his own and nothing Wawa had expressed to him.

"What I meant was I had concerns that could cause them to reconsider," Driscoll said. "I’m a champion and a cheerleader for Philadelphia."

Wawa partly addressed concerns that crime could stunt their growth in Philadelphia, saying the closures "do not necessarily impact or limit potential for future stores in Philadelphia County."

"We continue to be focused on doing everything we can to monitor and work with local authorities to address challenges impacting operations in any other stores."

In response to the closures, the City of Philadelphia said leaders have been in communication with Wawa regarding ongoing challenges. The Department of Commerce is working to attract more businesses throughout the city that "provide critical goods and services while offering jobs for Philadelphians."