(April 10, 2:35 p.m.) The long wait for a new home may finally be nearing an end for distributors on the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market.

“If all things go according to plan, we hope to break ground by the end of June or early July,” said Mark Levin, co-owner of Philadelphia-based M. Levin & Co. Inc. and a member of the market’s design committee.

Of course, market vendors have been through this before in the quest to replace their 49-year-old facility. Market board member John Vena Jr., president of John Vena Inc., said the market has scouted at least six locations during a process that started in 2002, and has been committed to two relocation sites a total of three times.

Levin said the state government and a builder need to sign off on financing for the $212.5 million project, and a few other bureaucratic hurdles remain. If the project moves forward, it could be completed in 2010.

“We’ve been turned down so many times before,” Levin said. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been. I think it’s a done deal.”

The new 50-acre site is about 10 minutes from the existing facility. Vena said it is a few blocks from Interstate 95 and also is in close proximity to the city’s airport and seaport. The new location also has an adjacent 15 acres that could be used as a staging area or for overflow truck parking.

“It’s very well laid-out for what we need to do,” Vena said.

Vena said the totally enclosed market is expected to have 68 units for 35 businesses.

“Everybody that signed on about five years ago is still on board,” he said. “We expect there to be full representation from the number of businesses we have now.”

Market association president Jimmy Storey said rents will increase at least 20% at the new facility.

“We’re excited, and we’re a little nervous,” said Storey, president and owner of Quaker City Produce Co. “The expenses are going to be a lot higher, but we can’t stay in this facility.”

Benefits of the new market, Storey said, will include better cold chain management and improved food safety measures. Tenants also will have larger units.

Market manager Sonny DiCrecchio could not be reached for comment.