Porn is apparently out and booze is in at 43rd and Chestnut Sts., after the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) voted this week to support a proposal for an “upscale” liquor store that’s replacing a closing Risqué Video location.
Members of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) are still negotiating with the landlord, making the decision not yet one hundred percent certain, according Stacey Witalec, a PLCB spokesperson.
A number of nearby residents showed up at the SHCA meeting to express their opposition to the liquor store, citing religious concerns, fear of panhandlers, and more, according to the West Philly Local news site. The Masjid al-Jamia Mosque stands a block away at the southeast corner of 43rd and Walnut Sts. Interestingly, the mosque building was originally the Commodore Theatre, designed by the Ballinger Company and equipped with a 10 rank Wurlitzer organ.
As one West Philly Local reader noted, perhaps neighbors oppose the store not because they would prefer pornography, but instead believe that another type of establishment should occupy the 5K-square-foot space in the Chestnut Street Plaza. Other businesses in the plaza include a check cashing company, which may become part of the liquor store, a halal meat market, and a large laundromat.
The shopping center
This location would provide a replacement for the Wine and Spirits shop at 4049 Market St. that closed in January. According to Witalec, the PLCB considers a number of factors when choosing new locations such as how many stores are already in the area and whether the store will carry more premium items or only a small selection. This new location will be an “upscale” location. While that definition varies for each store (making us wonder if the PLCB even understands its own descriptions), it does mean an increased selection of quality wines and liquors. Once a lease is signed, renovations will take around six weeks plus six more weeks to stock and prepare the site, according to Witalec.
We can tell from firsthand experience, the Wine and Spirits at 49th & Baltimore is crowded just about every night of the week and even more so on weekends. In recent months, it’s been crowded enough to warrant the installation of a third cash register. You know, no reason to keep people thirsty.