Former Modern Laundry: 41st and Market Streets, Philadelphia

The site is located in West Philadelphia, just north of the University City in a neighborhood that has seen a marked decrease of businesses since the 1970s. The site had been vacant for many years prior to redevelopment and because of its large size and prominent location on Market Street had become a blight on the neighborhood.

The former Modern Laundry redevelopment site had been the location of a commercial dry cleaning service since at least 1954. These operations included the use and storage of chlorinated organic compounds such as tetrachloroethylene (PCE, commonly known as ‘perc’) and trichloroethylene (TCE). Other historical operations at the site included on-site storage of gasoline, petroleum-based solvents and lubricating oils at private vehicle service stations; and the on-site storage of fuel oil for steam boilers. Regulatory records a indicated that a total of fourteen (14) USTs were installed at the subject property between 1923-1974. These USTs stored fuel oils, cleaning solvent and gasoline.

On June 21, 2002, the subject property owner (41st and Market Streets, L.L.C.) entered into a Consent Order & Agreement (CO&A) with the PADEP regarding remediation of the site in accordance with the Special Industrial Area (SIA) provisions of Pennsylvania Act 2. remediation of site soil and groundwater contaminated with lead, solvents and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Working in close cooperation with the Southeast Regional Environmental Cleanup Program Case Manager for this site, Mr. Walter Payne, REPSG conducted investigation and remedial activities to satisfy the CO&A including a Phase I ESA (dated September 5, 2001); an SIA Baseline Remedial Investigation Report (BRIR) and Baseline Environmental Report (BER) (dated December 5, 2001); Cleanup Plan (dated March 11, 2002) and Remedial Action Completion Reports (dated September 18 and December 10, 2002). The site owner was notified on December 17, 2002 by the PADEP that the submission of the two Remedial Action Completion Reports constituted the Notice of Completion of Remediation as required by the CO&A.

REPSG also oversaw the successful application for a $300,000 USEPA Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan in April 2002. The loan application was organized through Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC)

The following description of the Modern Laundry redevelopment project as overseen by REPSG has been excerpted from the article “Thriving Drug Store Replaces Empty Lot in West Philadelphia” published by the PADEP on its “Daily Update” web page on Friday, August 13, 2004:

Where once there were rocks, weeds, and trash, now there are lights, activity and commerce. A busy Eckerd Drugstore, built on a brownfield site in an up-and-coming Philadelphia business district, is yet another example of the positive impact that can be realized from the state’s Land Recycling Program. The site of the new drugstore had been a symbol of urban decline and blight.

A vibrant commercial laundry operation from 1954 until the early 1990s, the business fell into bankruptcy and the site into disrepair. The property declined so dramatically that the City of Philadelphia declared it a public nuisance and imminent hazard, demolishing the building in 1996.

For six years, the property remained vacant, unused and a target of open dumping. Situated along the highly visible east-west Market Street corridor in the growing University City area, it represented a prime development opportunity. Despite several attempts to attract redevelopment, no projects materialized, largely due to concerns about how past uses of the property might have contaminated the property.

Under the leadership of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, the former Modern Laundry became a priority brownfields site on the City’s redevelopment agenda.

Developed through the state’s Land Recycling Program, the successful reuse of the property at 4055-89 Market Street has eliminated the stigma that persisted over the site, and perhaps more importantly, has created new jobs and increased the neighborhood’s vitality.

Current Status

After receiving approval in December 2002 from the PADEP for completion of a demonstration of attainment of the Special Industrial Area (SIA) cleanup standard under Act 2, the former Modern laundry site has been completely redeveloped as an Eckerd Drugstore.