By Robin Rieger
CAMDEN (CBS) – A new 75,000 square foot Shop Rite planned for east Camden by 2015 will help end the drought of healthy food choices that for years has prompted the USDA to label the area a “food desert.” The other brand name grocery stores are on the south side of town, far from people without access to cars.
“Access to affordable healthy food is a basic necessity that is an essential component to creating a more livable Camden,” said Mayor Dana Redd.
Mayor Redd, the Goldenberg Group and the Ravitz Brothers, whose family owns several Shop Rites in our area, announced a partnership Tuesday that will transform this city and DRPA-owned property on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard at 17th Street into the Admiral Wilson Plaza. Shop Rite will take up half of the space with additional businesses balancing out the rest.
“There will be restaurants, there will be fashion, there will be shoes,” said Ken Goldenberg, President and CEO of the Goldenberg Group.
“It is good news to me. I will go there,” said Bernice Martinez, a Camden resident. She says the new store will save her the trip to the Cherry Hill Shop Rite on Route 70.
“I go there to buy meat,” said Martinez.
School nurse Denise Langston says it will help children and adults.
“Access to a better way of life. A healthier eating habit,” said Langston.
“We’ve been looking for the right location in Camden for years,” said Jason Ravitz, Vice President of Retail Operations.
He and Goldenberg cite the expansion at Rutgers, Cooper Hospital, and the University Sciences district as compelling reasons to invest in Camden and help the community.
“The residents right now have very tough access to fresh food, very tough access to food at reasonable prices, at low prices — and we can offer that,” Ravitz said.
Both companies say the project will bring hundreds of construction jobs to the region and then several hundred long-term full and part time jobs. It will also bring in additional tax revenues.
Financing is still being worked out. Officials say funding sources would be private and public. Redd says she is working at the state and local level to apply for development grants and other available programs.