When it was reported last week that the long-delayed opening of a supermarket at Girard Avenue at Second Street would become a Superfresh instead of a Pathmark, that fact was easy to see.
“Now Hiring” signs are posted along the entire block, on nearly every first floor window of the empty building, offering interested parties to “come join the Superfresh Team.”
But, even with the evidence literally staring passers-by in the face, getting confirmation of the plan from anyone involved with the project was significantly more complicated.
Elsewhere, a wealth of reports cited “those in the know” or the vague “sources said.”
Representatives from the Northern Liberties-based Tower Investments, owner of the site, did not respond to calls to confirm the deal with Superfresh or to say what the fate of other shops planned for the sprawling development would be.
In Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, however, Bart Blatstein, owner of Tower Investments, praised Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company — parent company to Pathmark and Superfresh — general counsel Craig Feldman for working to bring the new market to Northern Liberties.
While Pathmark, whose logo still graces the building, was supposed to open last December, bankruptcy indefinitely put those plans on hold and left many wondering if the neighborhood would ever get chain grocery store.
Besides the empty supermarket space, which stretches a full block along Girard between 2nd Street and Hancock, there remain a number of empty storefronts where prospective tenants may have been waiting for an anchor-business before committing to a lease.
There is a plan to relocate the Wine and Spirits store at Girard Avenue and Germantown Avenue into the complex.
The new location, which would be on the first floor facing Girard Avenue, would be expanded to a “premium store” that hosts wine tastings.
Scot Hoffman, spokesman for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company — the Monvale, N.J. based corporation that owns Superfresh, Pathmark, A&P, The Food Emporium and other stores — released a statement confirming the Superfresh opening. He said other questions would be answered in a few weeks when A&P plans to release another announcement for the store’s grand opening.
“We are pleased to confirm that The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company is moving forward with plans to open a new Superfresh store at North Second Street and West Girard Avenue in Philadelphia,” read the statement.
That’s confirmation, surely, but why change the brand from a Pathmark at the $30 million commercial complex to Superfresh?
Hoffman declined to comment.
It has been suggested that the moniker change could be intended to strengthen the supermarket’s brand. Late last year, A&P filed for bankruptcy.
In February, the company announced that it would shutter at least 10 stores in this state and in New Jersey.
A new 51,000-square-foot store in Blatstein’s Piazza at Schmidts — part of his plan for a “five-minute” community —could help the supermarket chain grow and establish prominence in a much-hyped Philadelphia development.
Asked how many employees would be hired to staff the new business, Hoffman again declined to comment.
Instead, he cited the release, which read: “We are looking forward to bringing our neighborhood store to this community” with the full support of Mayor Michael Nutter, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, and the developer of the property.
A&P hopes to open the new Superfresh by the end of the summer.
In an e-mailed reply, Hoffman said the company will announce further details about jobs and the date for a grand opening “as those details come together.”
On Thursday, July 21, work was under way on the first floor of the complex.
One worker at the site said the new liquor store space is currently under construction with plans for a T-Mobile cell phone store in the works.
Pointing to the far corner of the complex, right where Girard Avenue meets Second Street, the worker said, “rumor has it that will be a bank.”
However, with no response from Tower Investment representatives as of press time, that might remain a rumor.
The store is currently hiring. Information can be found at www.superfresh.com. The store number is 5233.
Reporter Hayden Mitman can be reached at 215-354-3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org