CRDA To Fund Search For An Atlantic City Grocery Store

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A not-for-profit consulting company will get a $157,500 contract to find Atlantic City a grocery store, if all goes to plan at Tuesday’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority board meeting.

Atlantic City in some respects is a poster child for urban food desert: more than a third of the 38,000 residents lives in poverty and there is not a single major supermarket in the city. On the other hand, there are also multiple small stores in many neighborhoods that sell fresh fruit, vegetables and ethnic foods. There is also BOOM Supermarket near the new Stockton University and a small Save-A-Lot that opened in the city’s downtown area in 2012. Still, there is no large supermarket and the city has – at least in the past – had to provide bus services to take residents out to the ACME in Ventnor Plaza.

It’s not clear why CRDA decided to hire a consultant rather than working directly with supermarket developers. A supermarket has long been one of CRDA’s goals. A CRDA-sponsored Urban Land Institute report in 2014 suggested a supermarket (and a theater) would be part of the second phase of the Boraie housing development (now almost complete and being marketed as 600 NoBe). CRDA also made contributions to the Save-A-Lot development.

CRDA’s board on Tuesday will vote on hiring the consultant Uplift Solutions, which is led by a Shop Rite operator. CRDA put out the request for proposals for a grocery-store consultant back in  August. The plan is to request one or two developers submit proposals to own, or operate and own, grocery stores in the city. The consultant will work with CRDA to get proposals, assess them and then help find funding for the development.

If Uplift receives the full CRDA contract value, it will be a significant chunk of its consulting work for the year. According to its financial filing for 2017, the organization received just under $2 million in revenue. The organization’s board members include the owners of Brown’s Super Stores Inc, which operates 10 ShopRite stores in the Delaware valley.

3 thoughts on “CRDA To Fund Search For An Atlantic City Grocery Store

  1. Atlantic City has no grocery stores, except for:
    – La Villita and Sunny’s near the Tropicana (my faves)
    – Santori’s Produce on Albany
    – Various other little shops
    – Sav a Lot. Perfectly good food at great prices, if you’re not stuck up about name brands
    – ACME just a stone’s throw over the city limits, accessible by a choice of two bus lines (cheaper than keeping a car and driving)
    – Casel’s in Margate, accessible by bus every 15-30 minutes.

    All of these are perfectly decent groceries, adjusting their offerings to their customers preferences.

    For those who drive, there are numerous options off-island. Why would a major off-island chain open in AC when their customers are already getting in their cars?

    For those who walk and take buses, where would be the “right” place for a “big, shiny, national” grocery? Will AC’s non-driving population sustain it? How would that store affect all the others?

    I understand that there’s been talk about security issues at the strip where Sav a Lot is. But will a new store elsewhere in AC be immune from that? Do you really need to build a new store? Or, perhaps the owners and the city an cooperate to straighten things out?

    I grew up in a crowded neighborhood in Brooklyn, with no national grocery. A few years ago I spent a lot of time there looking after my parents. It’s still a dense neighborhood of small shops. But it’s amazing what you can get in grocery and produce shops on 25-50 foot frontages, with no parking. Because there’s sufficient people living in walking distance to support constant turnover of fresh produce, so it works. If you bulldoze a city, don’t be shocked when you don’t have the customer base for fresh food. No grocer is going to put up pretty displays of produce that won’t sell.

    And didn’t the city or state buy up the block opposite the hospital and Claridge for a food hall a few years back?

    This reminds me of an article in a NYC paper I saw years ago. It went on about how a $500,000 study funded by the city or state concluded that a certain neighborhood needed more retail. All I could conclude from the article was that the government funneled $500,000 to someone to tell us what we already know.

  2. Over the years Atlantic City has had a number of supermarkets to serve its residents all located in the Renaissance Plaza. A huge amount of theft by their customers and employees both inside and outside of the stores led to their closing. There was also occasional violence when the store’s security personnel confronted these thieves. So go ahead CRDA and waste $157,500 of casino revenue in order to find a solution. Every time I pass the now empty baseball park located on Rte. 40 I think about your investment choices.

    • Renaissance opened in 1996 and had a Thriftway until 2004. Then an IGA for 2 years. Save A Lot has been there since 2012 and was open the last time I checked.