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PHILADELPHIA-Groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market’s 667,000-sf new facility is scheduled for next Wednesday, with Mayor Michael Nutter and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell expected to attend, according to a news release. As GlobeSt.com previously reported, the produce center is being developed on a 46-acre remediated brownfield by Essington Avenue Partners, a joint venture of King of Prussia-based O’Neill Properties Group and Newtown Square, PA-based Corvest Realty.

According to published reports, an agreement was signed late last month by the produce market, the JV and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority for a 40-year lease. The new facility at 6700 Essington Ave. in Philadelphia is expected to cost $218.5 million and be completed in approximately two years, according to a release from the JV. Much of the funding is coming from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to an April news release from Pennvest, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, announcing an $11-million loan to the JV. The loan was to enable the JV to remediate a site that formerly held an automobile salvage operation, a scrap yard and a landfill.

The lease agreement marks the conclusion of a six-year search for larger quarters to house the produce market, which has operated at the same facility in south Philadelphia since 1959. Last year, Rendell canceled plans to move the produce center to an 85-acre, 960,000-sf site at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, saying the $400-million cost was too much and the project would block expansion of seaport operations, according to published reports. At one point, the market—home to 35 produce wholesalers whose annual sales reportedly exceed $1 billion—reportedly weighed a possible move across the Delaware River to New Jersey.

According to the JV release, the move to Essington Avenue, a 100% refrigerated facility nearly twice the size of the current center, will help retain approximately 1,400 jobs and create 375 new ones. The new center is expected to generate $10 billion in revenues for the city and commonwealth over its 40-year lease, according to the release. GlobeSt.com will provide additional coverage of the produce center project’s start next week.

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