Two months after it was originally slated to close, the Fresh Grocer at 4001 Walnut Street is still in operation.
Penn that the Fresh Grocer — which has occupied its spot on the corner of 40th and Walnut streets since 2001 — would be evicted after failing to renew its lease by the deadline.
Plans for an Acme supermarket, complete with a Starbucks and guacamole station, April 10.
Come July, however, and the Fresh Grocer still stands. How is that possible?
The supermarket was supposed to vacate the building by March 31, according to Ed Datz, the executive director for real estate at Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services. The Fresh Grocer has rejected Penn’s reasoning and the University has been engaged in litigation with the grocery for the past few months.
As of June 1, , Datz said, adding that Penn seeks “to enforce the lease and enable its new supermarket tenant to begin renovations to the market space.”
Maureen Gillespie, a spokesperson for Wakefern Food Corporation which owns the Fresh Grocer, told in April that the supermarket has no plans to leave Penn’s campus.
“It is the Fresh Grocer’s intention to remain at the Walnut Street location,” Gillespie said. “It will continue to avail itself of all options to make that happen.”
In the meantime, Datz said the administration “will implement a plan to assist the Penn community with its food shopping needs” but did not indicate how this would be put into effect.
President of the Undergraduate Assembly and rising College senior Michelle Xu said the UA has been very concerned about students’ access to food during this transition period.
Xu said the UA was contacted by Barbara Lea-Kruger, a spokesperson for Penn Business Services Division, to send out a survey collecting data on students’ grocery shopping habits in the spring semester.
“Their idea behind it is to provide a Penn bus or some form of transit to be able to take kids to a grocery store somewhat close to the area, with the same kind of affordability as FroGro,” Xu said.
This survey was sent to the undergraduate student body on April 16, over two weeks after the Fresh Grocer was scheduled to close. The email said the administration needed this information “so that they can provide the most efficient support, when that becomes necessary,” Xu said.
Two months since that date, the University has not followed up on this survey, or published its results.
“The next step comes up when The Fresh Grocer closes, and [we] don’t have any updates on that,” Xu said.
Other students agree that the transition between supermarket stores has not been as transparent as they had hoped.
“I feel like none of it has been communicated well,” said rising College junior Jolie Gittleman. “I think a lot of Penn students will manage either way, but for other people around here who shop or work there, it could be a much bigger problem, especially if this is the only place they can go to buy healthy food.”
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