(Sept. 5, UPDATED COVERAGE, 1:37 p.m.) With the Sept. 4 groundbreaking for a new Philadelphia terminal market a reality, produce wholesalers say they’re ready to see construction begin on a modern produce distribution facility.
Market vendors, governmental agencies, the developer and other officials attended the groundbreaking at 6700 Essington Ave., about a 10-minute drive from the current market’s location between Pattison and Packer avenues.
Market committee member John Vena Jr., president of John Vena Inc., Philadelphia, said this groundbreaking isn’t like other premature ceremonies on sites where distributors were later evicted.
“This project is different than other versions we have been through,” he said. “Our project has become more of a partnership between vendors of market, the government agencies and the private developer who has the means to build the building. That’s the difference between now and then. The deal now has evolved into a much more efficient model than we had before. It’s more exciting than you can imagine. It’s unbelievable.”
Construction is expected to be finished during the summer of 2010.
Mark Levin, co-owner of M. Levin & Co. Inc., which has distribution operations on and off the market, said the site, on the city’s southwest side near its international airport, looks like it’s in good condition.
“We will be happy when we see something other than a ceremonial shovel in the ground,” Levin said. “I have to say, as doubtful as I have been in the past, given the fact that we’ve been dislocated from four previous sites, this one will happen. There’s no reason to set us back. When we see the first pieces of steel go in the ground, I will be a happy person.”
Levin, who attended the groundbreaking and was on the market’s design committee, said a majority of the market’s merchants have signed on to the deal and that distributors have the support of governmental agencies such as the state as well as the regional port authority.
The new, enclosed market, located in an area called the auto mall off Interstate 76 with good access to Interstate 95, will replace the antiquated open-air operation.
Distributors say market designs have the facility resembling more of a shopping mall than a market. Produce vendors will be located on both sides of the building that will be designed to meet or exceed current and expected food safety regulations.
After relocating to the new location, the state plans to demolish the present market buildings and construct parking lots to accommodate attendance at the crowded weekend professional sports stadiums.