Thursday, August 04, 2011

Avenue D Project Moving Along 
Works Aims For Completion By Flower Show

The new DiNic's will feature many more counter seats
The RTM is moving forward with its $4.5 million Avenue D improvement and expansion project first reported here more than a year ago. Last week GM Paul Steinke held a series of briefings for market merchants to update them on the sequence of construction and design updates.

If all goes according to schedule, the work will be complete and ready for use before next year's flower show, which opens to the public March 4.

For the market, the central benefit is creating more leaseable space for added vendors.

The biggest benefit as far as the market's customers are concerned is expanded and improved rest room facilities.

But the most visible change will be the addition of a multi-purpose room and new demonstration kitchen at the east end of an expanded Center Court. The room -- to be called the Rick Nichols Room in honor of the Inquirer's former food columnist -- will be used as a seating area when not in use for kitchen demonstrations and private functions.

Rendering of new La Cucina and multi-purpose room
A newly-added feature for the Rick Nichols Room will be a historical exhibit on the market's history adornning the facility's walls. Funded by a William Penn Foundation grant, the exhibit will be prepared by the Philadelphia History Museum (formerly the Atwater Kent) and include contributions from Nichols.

Much of the improvement work has already begun in the bowels of the market, in its giant basement where some of the merchants have storage and prep space. Earlier this year a second elevator went into service to improve basement access. New dry storage space is basically finished, and soon work will begin on adding cooler and freezer units so that the existing cold storage lockers under the mezzanine can be cleared for the rest room and additional vendor space.

The most visible work will begin after Labor Day when both The Beer Garden and DiNic's start construction.

The Beer Garden, purchased by the Iovine brothers earlier this year, will be shut down while a kitchen is added and the seating area and bar renovated and expanded.

DiNic's will be moving to the space last occupied by Harry Ochs & Sons. With twice its current space and lots of additional counter seating, the market hopes lunchtime congestion around the popular lunch stall can be reduced.

When DiNic's moves, Spataro's will take over that space. Flying Monkey will move into Spataro's spot, as well as additional space from what is now the Spice Terminal, which will relocate under the mezzanine. Other vendor alterations include a shift in L. Halteman's footprint to front on Avenue C (where Market Blooms had its second stall), Miscellania Libri and The Shoe Doctor to a new location further north along the renovated Avenue D, and the move of La Cucina to the new demonstration kitchen and multi-purpose room.

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