Home Depot doesn’t get as much publicity as Wal-Mart Realty over the empty stores it leaves behind when the corporation decides to abandon its buildings — usually to put a bigger one up down the block. But today’s Home Depot can turn into tomorrow’s empty shell. Residents in the township of Upper Moreland, Pennsylvania are thrilled to be getting a grocery store where the Home Depot once stood. The community apparently needs a grocery store, but the loss of the Home Depot was no big deal, since other hardware stores exist. But the Upper Moreland area hasn’t had a grocery store since the Pathmark store in nearby Willow Grove closed 10 years ago, the Upper Moreland township Manager told the Bucks County Courier Times. “It’s really difficult when it’s time to go food shopping around here,” Upper Moreland Commissioner James Martin said. “This is news the community has been waiting to hear.” A proposal from Giant food store will be reviewed by the township’s advisory planning agency and presented to the commissioners in October or November. Giant hopes to open their store in late 2007 or early 2008. Giant plans to demolish the existing Home Depot, which is 133,000 s.f. The grocery store replacement will be around 10,000 s.f. smaller.
It warms our heart to hear of Home Depot stores being demolished. The newspaper account did not say why Home Depot abandoned the site. A 133,000 s.f. store is certainly not unusually small for Home Depot by today’s standards, and they are building stores this year at that size. But the township of Upper Moreland is fortunate to have found a developer willing to knock the building down. If they had had an ordinance required the owner of empty stores to demolish their own buildings that they leave empty, and restore the site to its pre-development state, the next corporation to come along would not have to tear the building down first. It’s too bad that Giant’s plans call for a 123,000 s.f. store on one floor. This would be a great opportunnity to build a more compact store on two levels, and create a more attractive greenspace around the store for the same square footage.