Sunday, June 06, 2010

Reading Terminal Market Expansion
More room for more vendors in planned $4.5 renovation

With all possible space completely leased for the first time in more than 16 years and other entrepreneurs wanting to join its roster of vendors the Reading Terminal Market Corporation has drawn up plans for carving out about 3,500 square feet of additional retail space from its existing footprint. It would expand the selling floor by nearly 9 percent from the current 40,000 square feet.

Closer collaboration with Bob Pierson's Farm To City, which operates many of the area's farmers' markets (including the recently inaugurated Sunday market outside the RTM) is part of the plan; that organization is expected to move its staff to enlarged office space at the market.

A Farm-to-City/RTM collaboration augers well for the market's desire to bring some farmers back into the market for direct sales to shoppers. (For more on that see Replacements for Livengoods, below).

Paul Steinke, now in his eighth year as the market's general manager, hopes funding for the expansion and related renovations can be secured by the end of the year and work begin in 2011.

Another benefit from the expansion will be larger restrooms, with a significant number of added stalls for the ladies who form a long line in the aisles when market traffic is heavy.

The genesis of the project was the need to rehabilitate the existing obstreperous freight elevator, which had merchants accessing basement storage areas cursing. The additional retail footage will be created by relocating to the basement current storage and prep space on the market's east side after the existing elevator is fixed and a second elevator installed in an existing unused shaft.

The market's Avenue D aisle, which provides access to the current storage areas, restrooms, and two vendors (Miscellanea Libri and the shoeshine stand) would be moved further west to create the retail space.

The new restrooms would occupy space currently occupied by the market's floor operations staff, La Cucina at the Market and part of the aisle known as 11th Street. Seating and event space would be added next to the relocated La Cucina along Avenue D.  More retail space would be carved out on both sides of the new Avenue D.

The additional office space for market office staff and Farm to City would be created by extending the existing office loft over the remainder of Tootsie's Salad Express.

The expansion would take place in phases, starting with the elevator work, after which storage would be moved to the basement. Restrooms would then be expanded, followed by the new retail space and the extention of market office space.

The new Avenue D would temporarily jog around the rear of Flying Monkey Patisserie and L. Halteman Family's meat, deli and produce stall. Eventually, after their leases come up for renegotiation in a few years, Avenue D could be straightened out.

Replacements for Livengoods

No doubt about it, both market shoppers and managers miss Earl Livengood's Saturday-only produce standing selling fresh Lancaster County produce from his farm in center court. Earl declined to return this year, favoring his existing presence at the Bryn Mawr farmers' market and adding King of Prussia on Saturday.

To fill the void Steinke said he is close to adding a rotating series of producers to Livengood's spot. Two produce growers and one non-artisinal cheese-maker are in discussions to occupy the space on Saturdays.

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