ATLANTIC CITY — Sylvester Showell sometimes has to make three stops to get all of the groceries he needs.
Often, he leaves the city to visit a neighboring town’s supermarket.
Showell, the president of the city’s Third Ward Civic Association, said he does it all using public transportation. And it’s a hassle.
“You can only carry but so many things when you’re on public transportation, which, the majority of people in Atlantic City, that’s what they do,” said Showell, 73. “If they don’t have a car, they either walk to Renaissance (Plaza) or they take the 505 bus to Ventnor Heights.”
Showell said there were multiple grocery stores in the city when he first moved here 39 years ago. There hasn’t been a proper supermarket for 15 years, and Atlantic City has been repeatedly labeled a food desert because of it. That lack was one of the main faults listed by Jim Johnson, special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy, in his 2018 report on getting the city back to financial independence.
If everything goes according to plan, though, a proposed ShopRite could ease Showell’s headaches. A number of hurdles will need to be navigated to make that a reality, though.
On Aug. 20, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority board voted to certify Village Super Market, which operates 30 ShopRites across four states, as the developer and operator of a new 40,000-square-foot grocery store at Baltic and Indiana avenues. There is no official groundbreaking date, but officials estimate the store — which will cost about $13.5 million to build — should take 13 months to build.
City officials see it as a win, even before the groundbreaking.
“To have ShopRite say it’s willing to be in the City of Atlantic City sends a deeper ripple effect than we can imagine,” said Mayor Frank Gilliam at the meeting. “It’s something the community has wanted for a long, long time. The community should have a right to have a supermarket to eat and live in dignity.”
Concerns from residents will need to be addressed to make sure the store stays in the city.
One location in a low-income area in Jersey City has rotated through multiple grocery store brands that all saw similar life cycles, said Mayor Steven Fulop. Unsupported by the city, the operators pushed the shelf lives of things like meat, eggs and produce. Customers caught on and stopped patronizing the locations, and the stores went into a “death spiral,” he said.
“I think it’s really important that the city invests its own resources out of the gate to help customers get there and shop there,” Fulop said.
In Atlantic City, reliable transportation to and from the location is chief among residents’ concerns, as many in the resort, like Showell, don’t own cars. CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said the agency has discussed reaching out to NJ Transit to alter a bus route to go directly to the store.
According to an analysis of Census Bureau data by datausa.io, the average household in Atlantic City owns one car, compared with two cars statewide.
Beyond public transit, Showell worries the boxed-in plot could cause congestion for motorists.
“You have Ohio Avenue, which is one way. You have Indiana Avenue, which is one way. You have Baltic Avenue, which is one way leading out of town,” he said.
Safety for shoppers is another top concern for residents. Loiterers and panhandlers outside the Save-A-Lot discount store on Atlantic Avenue can leave some shoppers feeling harassed.
Residents shouldn’t look to the city to provide security at the ShopRite, said Ruan Pugh, 40, Showell’s son and vice president of the Third Ward Civic Association. The onus should be on the supermarket.
ATLANTIC CITY — Every year, New Jersey produces hundreds of millions of pounds of produce fr…
“Who wants to be bothered with that vagrancy every time you go into that store? It’s such a headache to have to deal with the riffraff and nonsense,” Pugh said. “And I know it’s in the process of being worked on, but it’s still a hassle, especially for my parents, who are much older. I don’t want them to be subjected to that.”
The last grocery store in the city closed largely due to vagrancy and theft.
“It starts with the supermarket itself,” Pugh said. “If you don’t have quality security in and around that supermarket, it’s gonna turn into a slum area.”
Doherty said ShopRite is up to the task.
“ShopRite will be responsible for providing comprehensive and complete security both in the building and on the premises,” he said. “We’ve discussed this with them. They understand that it’s important as well, and they don’t see any problems with providing a level of security that will make people feel very comfortable going into their store.”
Atlantic City isn’t the only town bringing a ShopRite to a neighborhood in need of a full-service grocery store.
Jersey City is weighing a tax abatement for a ShopRite set to open on the west side of the city. It could be worth the stability and jobs the store would bring, Fulop said.
Likewise, in Atlantic City, the supermarket could provide an economic boost. CRDA has floated the idea of leasing the land to Village Super Market for a dollar a year.
Village Super Market is considering building up at the location to accommodate a sit-down restaurant, job training site and a micro-fulfillment center that would use robotics to carry out online orders, said Walt West, director for sustainable food systems for Uplift Solutions, which consulted the city on the project. Of the roughly 125 jobs that will be created by the ShopRite’s opening, 75% will go to low or unskilled workers, CRDA Vice Chairman Richard Tolson said. And 89% of employees would be covered by unions and paid a living wage with paid vacation, sick and personal days, and health coverage.
To keep those jobs in the city, Village Supermarkets and CRDA will have to find a way to make the location profitable. An attorney representing Village Supermarkets said in August the location will lose roughly $115,000 a year.
That is among the wrinkles that need to be ironed out to keep the supermarket in Atlantic City for the long haul. Being able to get all of their groceries in one place, quickly and conveniently, would make a world of difference for residents, Pugh said.
“It would almost change the game,” he said, laughing. “We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.”
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ATLANTIC CITY — When the TV news show “60 Minutes” came to town on the 20th anniversary of legalized gambling here, Atlantic City was booming — beating out Las Vegas for gaming revenue.
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ATLANTIC CITY — The team of city code enforcement officials met up at North New Jersey and Magellan avenues shortly after 10 a.m.
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Atlantic City has had difficulty in shielding its visitors from unpleasant urban realities such as poverty, crime and drug use, which is often visible right outside the doors of the city’s casino hotels.
ATLANTIC CITY — A few doors down from Sheila Freeman’s quaint, bayside house sits a home with its windows boarded up and overgrown grass spilling onto the sidewalk.
ATLANTIC CITY — Rather than sit back and wait for those in need to come to them, a group of vested community stakeholders is taking its efforts to the streets.
ASBURY PARK — Local musician Reg Satana was a child here in the 1960s, at the end of the resort’s former life as a popular family vacation spot with beaches and a middle-class downtown.
Staff at the Comfort Inn on the Black Horse Pike became accustomed to seeing guests sell narcotics in the parking lot.
The block of Tennessee Avenue between the Boardwalk and Pacific Avenue has seen a recent flurry of investment and redevelopment, resulting in a handful of new businesses opening their doors.
ASBURY PARK — Former Mayor Ed Johnson still remembers a trip he took to Trenton in 2001.
ATLANTIC CITY — Within these 48 city blocks, men, women and children are falling through the cracks of health care.
ATLANTIC CITY — Nearly a year ago, Alyssa Spruill was at a prenatal visit with her doctor when she learned she would have to deliver her baby 16 weeks early after developing severe preeclampsia.
Atlantic City’s Health Department, down to just one employee and 20 percent of its 2014 funding, is a health department in name only.
ATLANTIC CITY — When Ralia Williams was a freshman at Atlantic City High School, her aunt recommended she see school counselors for her anger issues.
ATLANTIC CITY — Pastor Raymond Hollis Jr. and his wife, Shonda, inherited the blighted property on North Connecticut Avenue after his father passed away in 2011.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The smallest surviving baby ever born at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Mainland Campus celebrated her first birthday Tuesday with the doctors and nurses who cared for her during her 113-day stay last year.
Shanita White had only known Tamara Etheridge for about 15 weeks before the two shared one of the most intimate moments a person can experience.
ATLANTIC CITY — A little less than two hours before the sun rose over the city Feb. 10, Demond Tally was shot dead as he walked from his neighbor’s home to his own on Presbyterian Avenue.
ATLANTIC CITY — In a city as diverse in demographics and economic status as Atlantic City, having access to quality care can mean the difference between life and death.
ATLANTIC CITY — Music blared from an old-school boom box inside the fitness room at the Uptown Complex on a recent Thursday evening.
ATLANTIC CITY — Ronsha Dickerson put it like this: An urban black woman makes a prenatal appointment. This is not her first pregnancy, and she has Medicaid.
ATLANTIC CITY — The people who approached the Hope One van one day in late March were from various backgrounds and on different steps along the path to recovery.
ATLANTIC CITY — Many years back, Doug Martin remembers staring out his window and watching his family members leave for work, thinking to himself, “I just want to be normal. I just want to be normal.”
ATLANTIC CITY — Shamirah Howard, 26, is trying to keep her young son on the right path, which is part of what led her to bring Lyfe Watson, 9, to the boxing gym on the third floor of the Atlantic City Police Athletic League on a recent Thursday evening.
ATLANTIC CITY — A bright yellow backhoe sat on top of five feet of rubble in the middle of Keener Avenue in the resort’s Westside neighborhood Thursday evening. A bedroom door flapped on its hinges inside half a row home, the house’s insides exposed.
ATLANTIC CITY — Sharon Aloi remembers years ago when she saw more patrol cars parked in the city, including one near her property in Lower Chelsea.
David Schwartz read off the headlines of a Las Vegas newspaper Wednesday afternoon in quick succession; police were arresting suspects and investigating robberies and a shooting, but he paused to read further into the murder of a professor he knew.
When Danielle Fletcher, who has lived in Atlantic City all 43 years of her life, saw a group of boys arguing outside the Atlantic Avenue barbershop where her sons were getting their hair cut, her first instinct was that things might escalate.
ATLANTIC CITY — Since buying Gem Liquor Store at Atlantic and North Indiana avenues last month, Dharam Patel has put in a half-dozen security cameras, but he said he still needs to install more outside to watch for loitering and other illicit behavior on the street.
ATLANTIC CITY — Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White grew up here, rented his first apartment and bought his first home here.
ATLANTIC CITY — Juan Pemberti began his law enforcement career in Atlantic City as a Class II Special Officer.
A video that captured a fight inside the McDonald’s on Arkansas Avenue in March racked up more than 1 million views on Facebook and sparked multiple online comments.
ATLANTIC CITY — Velvet Wright loved her tiny, red row home on North Tennessee Avenue.
The days of building public housing in huge towers or “villages” only for the poor are over, officials say.
ATLANTIC CITY — Drive down Pacific Avenue, past old motels converted into condos, and you might guess how it looks inside: popcorn ceilings, a musky smell and sticky carpets.
ATLANTIC CITY — Now that WinnDevelopment has purchased three historic buildings long used for low-income housing, the company will begin renovating 153 rental units with residents on site.
ATLANTIC CITY — Like he does most afternoons, Edward Selva, 26, waited for the jitney near Columbia Avenue to pick him up for work. The Lower Chelsea stop is convenient for the 26-year-old food service worker, who lives nearby.
ATLANTIC CITY — A coordinated effort between the city and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will result in a reduction in the number of rooming houses in the Tourism District.
ATLANTIC CITY — During the mornings inside the bus terminal at Atlantic and Ohio avenues, a steady flow of people moves in and out to purchase tickets, check schedules or grab a seat and wait.
ATLANTIC CITY — Dayshawn Reynolds doesn’t own a car.
ATLANTIC CITY — Cyclists riding down Pacific or Atlantic avenues might feel the rush of wind on their backs as trucks, cars and jitneys stream past them.
ATLANTIC CITY — Kathleen Jurimas takes the 5:47 a.m. train from Atlantic City to Philadelphia for work every morning. And since the Atlantic City Rail Line returned in May, she’s had to take the bus home.
Twice a year, John Conway and his wife, Carol, fly to visit Atlantic City from their home in Tampa, Florida.
For Kyle Schuster, a 22-year-old studying marine biology at Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus, life is good at the college’s beachfront dorm.
ATLANTIC CITY — When people visit the Absecon Lighthouse between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. most Thursdays, the first person they see and the friendly voice they hear belongs to a gray-haired woman with glasses wearing a lighthouse cap and sweatshirt.
ATLANTIC CITY — In between sipping from a glass bottle of mango juice at a table at Jeni’s Pizza and Mexican Food on Arctic Avenue, Kevin Gil-Clara talked about the struggle of surviving through the winter as a student and a resident of Atlantic City.
The screen door slams each time one more neighborhood kid filters into Danielle Fletcher’s Indiana Avenue home. Fletcher hustles around her kitchen, putting french fries in the oven, frying chicken on the stove and cutting watermelon into slices.
ATLANTIC CITY — A free concert series returned to Gardner’s Basin this year after a three-year hiatus, and so did locals, beach chairs in hand, to sit in the grass and enjoy an entertainment staple they thought they’d lost forever.
ATLANTIC CITY — There are really two places called Atlantic City when it comes to bolstering jobs.
ATLANTIC CITY — With a focus on diversifying the regional economy to include sectors outside casino gaming and tourism, the greater Atlantic City region has begun to further embrace technology as a means for job creation and economic development.
ATLANTIC CITY — Every year, New Jersey produces hundreds of millions of pounds of produce from blueberries and eggplant to spinach and squash. The state is known for it’s agriculture contributions, but for residents of Atlantic City, finding fresh food can be difficult.