view current print edition




New market takes center stage at 50th anniversary celebration

by Tad Thompson | October 21, 2009
PHILADELPHIA -- If the new Philadelphia market were placed standing on its end, it would be 50 stories taller than New York's Empire State Building.

That tidbit, shared by Sonny DiCrecchio, general manager of the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market, who led an Oct. 20 tour of the market's construction, put a real perspective on the immensity of what in 10 months will become the world's largest, most-modern produce market. Tenants could possibly move into the market as soon as August, which would be two months ahead of schedule.

Mr. DiCrecchio and John Vena, owner of John Vena Inc., who heads the market's marking committee, indicated that the construction progress has greatly heightened the anticipation level of Philadelphia wholesalers.

The roof of the 667,000-square-foot market is complete except for the installation of centerline skylights, which will supply the central shopping concourse of the cavernous building with natural light. All the upstairs offices of the market also will have windows to brighten that workspace.

Mr. DiCrecchio led the walk-through of the construction site. The market, which is about 1,400 feet long, is surrounded by loading docks around the perimeter. There is a 50-foot air-controlled loading apron to serve the loading dock. The temperature throughout the market's working areas will be kept at a constant 50 degrees. Market tenants currently are choosing the layout of their individual sales areas, office space and coolers. The tenants will adjust the temperature of their individual coolers to suit the stored commodities. There is one central refrigeration and heating system for the entire market.

Orbis Solutions, an information technology company that has been based on the market for a decade, is in charge of supporting computer and communications systems within the market. Orbis partner Chris DiPiazza told The Produce News that the systems are being planned to adapt to technological advancements for decades to come. Crawl spaces above the offices will house the electronics systems.

The market celebrated its 50th anniversary during the week of Oct. 19-23. The celebration included a tent under which customers and guests could have a continental breakfast. Joseph Poon, a produce carver who has appeared on the "Jay Leno" and the "Ellen" shows, gave a demonstration Oct. 20, the day that two busloads of market tenants, customers and guests visited the market construction.

When the market opened its doors in 1959, a new era in produce marketing began. Dozens of competitive produce wholesalers united under the same roof to give their customers the finest in selection, price, convenience and quality, noted a press release issued by the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market.

"We're nostalgic and honor our past," said Mr. DiCrecchio. "But we've outgrown our facilities and look forward to moving to a brand new market in the fall of 2010."

He noted that the location is close to air, truck, boat and rail service, and it will be set up as an indoor mall-style market that is fully refrigerated, thereby ensuring that the cold chain will remain intact.