CRDA Approves $18.5M in Funding for New Supermarket
A proposed ShopRite supermarket on Baltic Avenue is a step closer to reality.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s Board of Directors on Tuesday unanimously approved more than $18.5 million in funding for the project.
“Atlantic City’s days as a food desert are soon to be over,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “This is a great day for Atlantic City and yet another example of our administration’s dedication to revitalization and economic recovery that centers the needs of local residents at the heart of our efforts.”
The resort has been without a major grocery store for more than 15 years. The nearest supermarkets are in neighboring Ventnor and Absecon, though the resort does have a discount grocer, Save A Lot, and a number of bodegas.
Access to high-quality foods was identified as a focus in a 2018 report by state officials on steps Atlantic City should take to return to local control. The report, co-authored by Jim Johnson, former special counsel to Murphy, highlighted the city’s issues.
“This long-awaited project directly addresses the immediate concerns of Jim Johnson’s Building a Foundation for a Shared Prosperity report in 2018 and will negate Atlantic City’s status as a food desert,” CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said.
The city is considered a food desert because access to affordable, healthy food is limited due to the absence of a major supermarket. Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
“While New Jersey is rich in farmland, many areas of our state are food deserts, making it difficult for residents to access fresh produce. Both urban and rural areas are plagued with this issue, making it costly to eat a healthy, well balanced diet,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland. “I look forward to seeing the impact this new grocery store will have on the Atlantic City community and the surrounding area.”
Under the agreement, Village Supermarket Inc. would lease the property for $1 a year to operate a ShopRite.
Plans call for a supermarket with more than 44,000 square feet of shopping space at 1801 Baltic Ave., on a property close to both the Atlantic City Convention Center and Tanger Outlets The Walk. The project also includes an approximately 10,400-square-foot mezzanine for administrative support and 227 parking spaces.
Most of the property is currently a parking lot, bordered by Indiana and Ohio avenues, Baltic Avenue and Bacharach Boulevard.
The store is expected to create 75 to 100 full-time jobs.
“This project will give access to high-quality food for Atlantic City residents,” said CRDA Chairman Modia Butler. “A full-service grocery store in Atlantic City will affect the quality of life for current community members and will enable us to attract new residents.”