The as-yet-unnamed market will be built on the ground floor of a new parking garage at 40th and Walnut streets. Students hungry for a late-night arugula fix will not have to go far once a new specialty food market opens on the edge of campus within a few years. The market will be located on the northwest corner of 40th and Walnut streets. And it will offer an array of fresh produce -- including arugula and a juice bar --Eas well as other prepared foods and regular groceries. The 30,000-square-foot facility -- which has no name and no formal design -- will be built on the ground floor of a new Penn-operated parking garage and operated by area entrepreneur Pat Burns, who owns two high-volume supermarkets in the Philadelphia suburbs. "It's going to be a very special market, so it needs a very special name," said Burns, a 30-year veteran of the food and catering industries. The opening date of the new store has not yet been determined, Burns said. Administrators hope the addition of the specialty market, as well as the parking garage and the new art-house Sundance Cinemas going up across the street, will make 40th Street a highly traveled corridor and a destination for all University City residents. The 40th Street development, the new Sansom Common complex and other recent additions like the Eat at Joe's diner are part of Penn's broad plan to revitalize the area and increase foot traffic. The new market will be located three blocks east of Brown's Thriftway, the only other supermarket in University City. It will feature perishable foods like produce and meats and will cook much of it's prepared food on the premises in a large, state-of-the-art, open kitchen, Burns said. A coffee bar, a juice bar and possibly a sushi bar will be among the unique aspects of the new store, he added. But it will also have "all the basics that are supposed to be found in a supermarket," assured Burns, who incorporated a new company, Walnut Supermarket Inc., to own and operate the store. Burns said he hopes to give the new market an "open-air feeling" by putting large windows on the side of the market facing Walnut Street, so that all members of the community will "feel involved with the market." In order to ensure that the residents of the neighboring communities feel welcome, Burns said he also plans to offer a wide selection of multicultural food and advertise aggressively in West Philadelphia. University officials have been negotiating with Burns for more a year, and both sides signed a letter of intent within the last 30 days. The finalized lease should be signed within the next 30 days, according to Burns. While Burns has no experience with this type of market, he owns two 80,000 square-foot supermarkets, Drexeline Supervalu in Drexel Hill and Barclay Square Supervalu in Upper Darby. The stores are not affiliated with Supervalu Inc., one of the nation's biggest supermarket chains. While these are high-volume supermarkets, Burns said they have some features that will characterize the new specialty food market, including the emphasis on foods prepared freshly on site. Tom Lussenhop, Penn's top real estate official, said he has "complete confidence" that Burns will succeed in the new format. "His current store displays the open kitchen, prepared foods and high-quality foods that will be present in the new market," Lussenhop said. Because the store is different from anything that he has ever done, Burns said he wants a "unique" design for the store. He said he is interviewing designers from across the country and will select one soon.Comments powered by Disqus
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