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.