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AmazonDistributionCenter
Credit: Yosef Robele

As Amazon narrows down choices for its second headquarters — a list of 20 which includes Philadelphia — the second most valuable company in the United States may be opening a delivery service right next to Penn's Campus.

The Amazon service Prime Now, which delivers groceries and household goods to Amazon Prime members within two hours of ordering, may soon occupy a building at 4100 Chestnut St. Philadelphia is not currently one of the 32 cities to which Prime Now delivers.

Although an opening date for the Philadelphia Prime Now has not yet been released, Amazon received a license on Feb. 2 to operate a site called "Prime Now," intended to be a “food establishment” and "retail perm location." The license will expire on Feb. 1, 2019. 

The permit was issued for a 35,000-square foot property Amazon purchased in August 2017, which had previously been owned by Campus Apartments since 2011, reports West Philly Local.

Prime Now was first launched in parts of Manhattan in December 2014, and according to its website, the service now offers two-hour delivery options at in-store prices for Whole Foods, local restaurants, and for miscellaneous household goods consumers may desire. 

If Prime Now opens, it may become competition for local grocery stores and other food delivery services like Seamless and Grubhub.

Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications for the University City District Alissa Weiss said the district had not had any collaboration or communication with the company so far.

"UCD doesn’t actually know more than what’s been reported publicly about the Amazon Prime site at 41st and Chestnut," Weiss said.

Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services spokesperson Heidi Wunder said that to her knowledge, the new Prime Now location is not affiliated with Penn. In 2016, Penn did partner with Amazon to open Amazon@Penn at 1920 Commons, the first Amazon shipping and delivery service of its kind in the Ivy League.

Design by Laura Guo

Many Penn students say they are looking forward to the addition of a Prime Now service.

“I’ve had a lot of convenience using Amazon@Penn, and I’m sure Amazon Prime Now will make my campus experience even easier and better," College freshman Chris Cherian said. "It’ll save so much time knowing that I’ll only have to order online and not plan out grocery and shopping trips.”

College senior Adrian Kase said he had not previously heard about Prime Now, but thinks it is a good idea at “surface level.”

“[Amazon@Penn] is super convenient, so if it’s something like that, which makes stuff from Amazon more easily accessible, I would be interested in that," Kase said. "Especially because things from places like CVS can be so much more expensive than the same stuff on Amazon.”

College freshman Lizzie Youshaei said she thinks Prime Now's convenience may steer students away from other local grocery stores like Fresh Grocer.

"[Prime Now] is definitely convenient for college students with little time so I think it would be a huge hit for Amazon and a huge blow for many local businesses."

College freshman Luis Gomez said that despite the appeal of Prime Now, the company may not have a significant impact on local businesses. 

 "I’m unsure whether [Prime Now will have] a net benefit as it depends on how much market space it takes from direct big business competitors like Grubhub, and how much business it shifts away from local restaurants and the like. My guess is that it’s fairly niche and won’t impact restaurants all that much."

Amazon's press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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