Progress on Progress Plaza’s development has been halted and delayed so often, the jokes playing on the center’s name stopped being funny a while ago.
Despite several middle-class enclaves in the surrounding area, not to mention the purchasing power of Temple’s thousands of Main Campus students, construction continues to be delayed. The projected finish date of spring 2009 has been pushed back. Before that, another completion date was missed. Plans to bring the Fresh Grocer to fill the supermarket centerpiece space are in the works but have not come to fruition yet.
Major construction projects take time and, without incredibly efficient management, often face hiccups and delays. The new Tyler School of Art building is evidence of that. Though it was supposed to be completed in time for students to take classes this semester, missing equipment and unfinished projects meant Tyler had a rough start.
Even still, it doesn’t make sense that a grocery store hasn’t been built yet. If developers think Temple students will be patient forever, they are mistaken. As The Temple News has reported, grocery-delivering services are growing in popularity, especially grocers that provide free delivery.
If students continue to learn about delivery services, eventually they will come to depend on them and won’t feel like making the trek to Progress Plaza, especially if they live on the north side of campus. On the north side, Pathmark is about as close as Progress Plaza.
There is a huge potential pool of customers for a quality grocery store near Temple and the surrounding neighborhoods. Doubts about the viability of a supermarket in North Philadelphia could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if the project is allowed to languish for long periods of time.
Progress Plaza is an example of progress merely by its existence. It is the first African-American owned plaza of its kind. The current state of it, then, does not speak well for the viability of a supermarket in an inner-city area.
We hope the planners of Progress Plaza’s overhaul will bear this in mind as they struggle to complete the project. North Philadelphia can, and probably will, reward the planners’ efforts with steady profits. First, Progress Plaza needs its managers to maintain persistence and push for completion.
A supermarket is sorely needed in North Philadelphia, and we will be excited to see it, whenever it gets here. We just hope we won’t have to wait too long.