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August 22, 2014, 1:52 am

New Hunting Park retail center brings groceries, jobs

The unemployed and underemployed in Northwest Philadelphia, Hunting Park, Logan and adjacent communities will now have new opportunities.

Thanks to the Bakers Centre shopping complex located in the old Tastykake headquarters located where Hunting Park Avenue, Fox Street and Roberts Avenue intersect.

The new $60 million project is expected to bring 350 construction jobs and some 700 permanent jobs to the area.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes presented $12 million to the Bakers Centre economic development project recently. Hughes, who serves as Democratic chair of the state Senate’s appropriations committee, was instrumental in securing funds through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. He made the official presentation on Sept. 15.

“This is all about jobs for the Hunting Park, North Philadelphia and Germantown communities,” Hughes said. “This money is coming to communities that need not only a retail complex, but are distressed. Those who work there will have permanent jobs so that they are able to support their families. People in the community will get these jobs so that it will be a convenient (location).”

Hughes was quick to point to a similar economic development project that he played a key role in bringing $17 million to the Mantua section of West Philadelphia. He added that these are the kinds of initiatives that spark economic growth in local neighborhoods. Since small businesses play a pivotal role in creating jobs, these projects will do just that, according to the state lawmaker.

“We realize that folks need help getting jobs,” Hughes said. “When people have jobs they get more respect. These new jobs will play a major role the security of families. So many times people come up to me and ask me to help them find a job. Our communities need these jobs in order to not only provide for the family but also to keep the neighborhoods up.”

Bakers Centre will be anchored by a 71,000 square foot Brown’s ShopRite supermarket owned by Brown’s Super Stores. The family-owned company operates several ShopRite supermarkets in the Philadelphia area, including the Cheltenham ShopRite.

The project will be a mixed-use urban redevelopment project by Metro Development. This company’s mission is to invest its energy and talents into developing projects that meet the specific needs of local communities.

“I applaud Jeff Brown and Brown’s Super Store for once again leading the way by building in challenging neighborhoods and showing others these projects can be successful,” Hughes said. “US Realty Associates and Metro Development Company are to be commended for their personal investment in this site. Together, we are moving Philadelphia forward during difficult economic times.”

Among those who are excited about the project is Henrietta Jones of Lower Germantown. A longtime Northwest Philadelphia resident, Jones readily admitted that she often has to travel a distance to do her shopping.

“This will definitely be closer to home and I may even want to walk to work over there,” she said. “I think this is good news for this community.”