In yet another manifestation of the internet’s erosion of traditional storefront retail businesses, Philadelphia Gas Works plans to shut down its Center City customer service center at 1137 Chestnut Street on June 28. PGW will continue to maintain five other neighborhood outlets.
The city-owned utility says it is closing the Center City location because its lease is up in August — the four-story art-deco building is set to be demolished by the developer, National Real Estate Development of Washington, D.C., as part of its plans to build the East Market complex of apartments, offices and shops.
PGW says it does not plan to reopen an office in Center City, said Melanie O. McCottry, the utility’s spokeswoman. The utility will maintain offices in South Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia Germantown and Frankford where customers can pay bills or make payment arrangements.
The utility’s storefront offices have recorded a steady decline in walk-in traffic as more customers conduct business online, and office hours have been cut — the neighborhood centers now are open only three or four days a week. No jobs will be lost because of the closure, McCottry said: Employees will be redeployed to other PGW functions.
The retail outlets are a throwback to another era, when many customers paid their utility bills with cash, and the utility used the storefronts to sell the latest appliances.