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PHILADELPHIA-The long-planned redevelopment and expansion of 65,000-sf Progress Plaza gets added impetus with $5 million from the state’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance program. Gov. Ed Rendell says the investment is expected to create 250 jobs and retain 75 while adding new stores to the Yorktown neighborhood.

Locally based Progress Trust Inc., a subsidiary of the owner, Progress Investment Associates, is redeveloping the four-acre center. It will include a 46,000-sf Fresh Grocer as anchor along with 38,000 sf of inline retail and 9,000 sf of office space on a second-story level.

Partial demolition of the existing center at Broad and Oxford streets was completed in 2005, and the renovation and new construction is expected to begin within 60 days. The Fresh Grocer replaces a Super Fresh, which vacated the property in the early 1990s, and will bring a 24-hour grocery to the North Philadelphia neighborhood.

Benjamin Gilbert, executive director of PIA, tells GlobeSt.com the center is 70% preleased and he anticipates completion by early to mid-2007. Additional tenants are Radio Shack, Citizens Bank, Popeye’s restaurant, Payless ShoeSource and the Avenue. Gilbert says rental rates on the Broad St. side range from $30 per sf to $35 per sf, while rates on the backside of the center are between $20 per sf and $25 per sf.

The late Rev. Leon H. Sullivan led construction of Progress Plaza in 1968 with 4,000 contributions of $360 each by members of his congregation at Zion Baptist Church and other members of the community. It is the country’s oldest African-American-owned and developed shopping center.

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