The long-awaited supermarket for Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood, in limbo since the December bankruptcy filing of Pathmark parent company A&P, now appears to be a go.
Help-wanted signs appeared Tuesday morning on the glass storefronts of the two-story structure at the corner of Second Street and Girard Avenue, where developer Bart Blatstein built a $30 million shopping center to house a second-floor Pathmark supermarket.
The signs say that the company is hiring for positions for a Super Fresh there, said local shop owner Darrell O'Connor, who noticed the signs from his store, Doc's Gourmet Café and Soup Bar, which faces the hulking, empty building on Girard.
Super Fresh is a sister chain to Pathmark, also owned by Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. "Come join the Superfresh TEAM," one sign reads. "Opportunities available for friendly individuals with a passion for customer service. Apply now at www.superfreshfood.com.";
The developer and the supermarket corporation have declined to comment about the site since July 8, when A&P informed the New York bankruptcy judge overseeing its reorganization that it planned to retain its lease for the Northern Liberties site.
But on Monday, the president of the union that represents Pathmark and Super Fresh employees in this region said a deal to open a Super Fresh instead of a Pathmark in the rapidly redeveloping neighborhood appeared all but sealed and geared toward a planned late-August opening.
"Right now, I believe all the effort is to move forward and open it," United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 president Wendall Young IV said in an interview Monday.
Blatstein and a spokesman for A&P did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday. Both have declined to discuss what, if any, efforts A&P was making to move forward with the site after the company agreed to retain its lease there earlier this month.
The store, a half-block from the Blatstein-developed Piazza at Schmidt's - a public square and restaurant hub that is a gathering spot for the new upscale inhabitants of the once industrial-castoff neighborhood near the Delaware River - has been sitting unopened despite original plans to open it late last year.
Over the course of its bankruptcy, A&P has disposed of a number of its supermarkets, both locally and elsewhere, including a batch of Super Fresh stores in Maryland.