Public officials joined executives with Village Super Market Inc. to break ground on a new 54,500-square-foot ShopRite in Atlantic City. — Courtesy: OIT/Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
A new full-service supermarket is coming to Atlantic City — its first in more than 15 years — under a public-private effort that will help eliminate one of New Jersey’s food deserts.
A contingent of top state officials gathered Thursday to break ground at the corner of Baltic and Indiana avenues, where plans call for a nearly 55,000-square-foot ShopRite operated by Village Super Market Inc. Gov. Phil Murphy and others were among those on hand, highlighting the importance of a project that is more than three years in the making and began with a solicitation by the state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
“Atlantic City residents should not have to leave town in order to shop for groceries for themselves and their families,” Murphy said. “Our administration, the CRDA, Mayor (Marty Small Sr.) and others have been working long and hard to make today a possibility, and I am happy to be standing today alongside our partners to break ground on a brand new ShopRite for Atlantic City.”
According to the state, construction on the new store is slated to begin in 2022 and will take roughly 13 to 15 months to complete. At that time, it will fill a need for a so-called food desert, which describes urban neighborhoods and rural towns without access to fresh, healthy and affordable food and whose residents are often forced to eat processed meals.
Officials noted that the project essentially began in August 2018, when CRDA issued a solicitation for consulting services, seeking to locate a site and a developer for a new grocery store in the city. The agency would go on to hire Uplift Solutions Inc., which recommended the site at Baltic and Indiana avenues, paving the way for it to seek a developer.
In August 2019, CRDA selected Village Super Market as its developer and operator, leading to a lengthy land use and approval process.
“It goes without saying that Atlantic City cannot reach its full potential without a full-service supermarket that offers fresh produce and high-quality food,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said. “Gov. Murphy and I understand that access to nutritious food will make a huge and positive impact on the health of people who live in Atlantic City.”
CRDA is supporting the construction with nearly $18.8 million in funding. Village, an 84-year-old, publicly traded company with sales of more than $1.6 billion annually, operates 30 ShopRite stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, including five in and around Atlantic County.
“Village Super Market is proud to continue our 84-year tradition of Helping Families Live better by bringing a 44,000 square foot state-of-the-art supermarket to the community,” Village Super Market Inc. Board Chair Bill Sumas said. “The new store will allow neighborhood residents access to fresh food and everything they need for a full first-class shopping experience to feed their family right here in Atlantic City.”
The property will include a 44,100-square-foot supermarket and a roughly 10,400-square-foot mezzanine for administrative support, along with 227 parking spaces.
“This is an important step forward for Atlantic City and the entire region,” state Senate President Steve Sweeney said. “Atlantic City will no longer be a food desert. Bringing a grocery store to the community provides residents access to fresh foods at affordable prices, so families in Atlantic City can have what all parents want for their children: healthy, well-balanced diets. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this new grocery store will have on the Atlantic City community and its residents.”
Village has partnered with Community Investment Strategies Inc. to assist with community outreach and to create job training and job fairs for Atlantic City residents to get the jobs that are being created by the project.
“The ShopRite groundbreaking makes today an especially great day in the city of Atlantic City,” Small said. “This project represents a major leap forward in the revitalization of the great city we call home. More importantly, the supermarket will provide additional opportunities for employment while also improving access to the healthy and affordable food options that our community deserves. Thank you to the CRDA team for their commitment to this project and to Atlantic City residents.”