NEW FOOD DISTRIBUTION CENTER
COMING TO SOUTH PHILADELPHIA
PHILADELPHIA, September 4,
2008 – With state assistance, a private developer will build a new Food
Distribution Center in South Philadelphia, containing retail and wholesale
operations that sell fresh produce throughout the mid-Atlantic region, state
Senator Vince Fumo announced today.
The $218.5 million dollar project will include a
667,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility occupying a 48.6 acre parcel of
land at 6700 Essington Avenue, with another 15 acre parcel nearby that will be
used as a parking/staging area. It will retain 1,468 current jobs, and create an
estimated 375 more.
Essington Avenue Partners II will develop the new
Philadelphia Regional Produce Market. The state will provide a $100 million
grant, with additional state and federal loan financing, through the
Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. The PRPA will be the landlord under a
“This has been a long time coming, with numerous
obstacles and detours over the past seven years. But many people were determined
not to give up, and now we are going to have the kind of modern, world-class
facility that we need to serve our population in the 21st century,” said Fumo, a
Democrat who represents the first Senatorial District, home of the current Food
Distribution Center facility on Galloway Street in South Philadelphia.
The first floor space will have 68 merchant units, a
main walking and retail concourse, and a dock area, along with rest rooms,
utility rooms, a restaurant and USDA accommodations. A second floor will contain
office space for the merchants, tenants and market associations.
The developer plans to break ground in September. The
facility should be ready for occupancy by fall of 2010. Under the agreement, the
developer is to complete the project within the two-year period, on budget, and
will be responsible for cost overruns.
“The state is making a big investment, but
Pennsylvanians will receive an even bigger return,” Fumo said. He noted an
analysis by EConsult that estimates the direct and indirect economic benefit to
the City of Philadelphia and the state at $270 million per year, or $10.8
billion over the 40-year life of the lease. Seafood distributors, who currently
operate a facility adjacent to the current produce market, will not move to
Essington Ave. Work will continue on efforts to provide a new facility for them.
The Food Distribution Center has been housed in an
antiquated facility built in 1959. Due in part to more stringent federal
regulations regarding food handling, the vendors faced the prospect of a large
capital investment to upgrade their current location. Additionally, the size of
the current facility was not suitable to meet the needs of that upgrade.
Bio-terrorism concerns after September 11, 2001
resulted in additional federal rules and increased the urgency to modernize.
Fumo had already been doing preliminary work with produce and seafood vendors as
early as 2000, but when New Jersey offered to find a new location for the Food
center, Fumo took the lead in intensifying Pennsylvania efforts to keep the
facility in Philadelphia.
This is the second attempt to replace the current home
of the food wholesaler operation. In September of 2005, Fumo, Rendell and others
announced plans to construct a new center for both produce and seafood vendors
in the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Various problems subsequently arose
regarding that site, however, and efforts began anew to find a new location and
create a new financing plan.
Essington Avenue Partners II is a development affiliate
of O’Neill Properties, headed by Brian O’BNeill. O’Neill Properties is a
national real estate and development company headquartered in King of Prussia,
The Philadelphia Regional Produce market is the oldest in the United States and
currently ranks second in revenue to the Hunts Point Market in New York City. It
serves institutions such as hospitals, schools, military bases, correctional
facilities, supermarkets, restaurants, specialty shops and convenience stores.
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