Wawa to build 60 locations in Ohio over next decade

Credit: Fred Morton

Credit: Fred Morton

Wawa plans to open around 60 stores in Ohio over the next decade, with more than a dozen locations already in the works throughout the Dayton and Cincinnati regions.

The Pennsylvania-based company — known for its mash up of gas station, convenience store and quick eatery offerings — held a community partnership event Wednesday at the U.S. Air Force Museum to announce the expansion details.

So far, Wawa has around 16 Ohio projects in various steps of the preliminary development process throughout Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Greene, Hamilton, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties.

Representatives for Wawa said the first store locations in the state are expected to break ground in 2024, with plans to open up to 10 locations in mid-2025, followed by 10 additional stores in 2026, and five stores annually thereafter.

The company will invest $7 million per store and is expected to employ an average of 140 contractors and local partners for each project. The new Ohio locations are expected to bring with them a total of around 2,200 new jobs.

Wawa is one of multiple gas station/convenience store chains announcing plans to expand into the Ohio and Dayton markets. Stores have also been proposed by Sheetz and GetGo, along with the announcement that Ohio’s first-ever Buc-ee’s will open in Huber Heights.

Wawa President Brian Schaller said he believes Ohio offers significant market opportunity and demand to be filled for these types of offerings, adding that he feels Wawa brings its own unique appeal.

“We think we’re different because while the fuel is important, it’s really about what’s inside the four walls,” Schaller said, highlighting that Wawa’s focus on food, atmosphere, and customer service is what sets it apart.

“We think of ourselves as a neighborhood market that provides amazing food and beverages and even better associates,” said John Poplawski, vice president of real estate for Wawa.

When choosing a new location’s site, Poplawski said the company looks at traffic numbers and population.

“We look at how many cars are at each intersection, how many rooftops are in the community, and how many workers there are in the area,” he said.

The surge in big-name fueling centers and convenience store chains expanding into the region, along with business expansion in other industries — like the new Amazon delivery station that opened earlier this month in Dayton — will mean thousands of new jobs for the region.

Despite this, Wawa’s regional real estate manager Matthias Smith said the company isn’t worried about attracting enough employees to fill its stores.

“There’s a lot of new opportunity coming to Dayton and we’re not the only business growing,” Smith said, noting that the company aims to entice employees with competitive pay and benefits like the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, through which Wawa associates own 39% of the company.

“There will be a lot of people moving to the area and as employers are bringing in more employees, there’s also opportunity for families to bring teenagers in high school who are looking for a job,” Smith said, adding that Wawa looks to offer long-term career opportunities. “It’s expanding the market from an employee standpoint just as much as for those business operators.”

A location proposed for the northwest corner of Old Troy Pike and Chambersburg Road in Huber Heights was given a green light by city council to go forward Monday night.

The company submitted similar plans earlier this summer to build a store in Lebanon, at the Interstate 70 interchange, and in Fairborn, near I-675.

Wawa recently withdrew an application to construct a new location in a busy area of Englewood, though Smith said plans are likely to be resubmitted following completion of additional traffic studies in response to resident and staff concerns.

The Englewood plans included a request to rezone a 1.5-acre site located at 9100 N. Main St. to facilitate construction of a 6,500-square-foot gas station near Miami Valley Hospital North.

The city’s planning commission voted earlier this month not to recommend council approval of the project. The withdrawal came before the project was set to be considered by Englewood City Council on Tuesday.

Englewood Development Director Bill Singer said city staff opposed the prospective project for multiple reasons, including that the city’s traffic engineer advised a development of this size would need access to a traffic light in order to accommodate the estimated average of 430 customer trips in the morning peak hours alone.

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