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$20 MILLION MODERNIZATION KEEPS FOOD DISTRIBUTION CENTER FROM LEAVING PHILADELPHIA

 $20 MILLION MODERNIZATION KEEPS FOOD DISTRIBUTION
 CENTER FROM LEAVING PHILADELPHIA
 /ADVANCE/ PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A $20 million, five- year modernization of the Food Distribution Center in South Philadelphia will support a host of improvements from access, to appearance, to the quality of fresh fruit and produce, according to city and state elected and appointed officials and executives from the lending institution on hand today at the center to announce the improvements, scheduled to start the first week in January.
 It also puts an end to speculation that the center, which provides the Delaware Valley area with 20 percent of its food, will move out of the city.
 "This modernization ensures that the Food Distribution Center remains in Philadelphia where it belongs," said Mayor W. Wilson Goode at a ceremony at the center. "We are delighted that we can announce the retention of this vital economic development resource, the third largest food center in this country," he added.
 William P. Hankowsky, president, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), which manages the Food Distribution Center, thanked Gov. Robert P. Casey and his administration for $4 million in state funds, $2 million from the Department of Commerce and $2 million from the Department of Community Affairs -- and also praised state Sen. Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia), who advocated the state funding for the project.
 "This project could not have been done without the cooperation of the state and, in particular, Sen. Fumo, whose district the distribution center is situated in," said Hankowsky.
 He also lauded T. Joseph Semrod, chairman of UJB Financial Corp., and executives from United Jersey Bank/South and First Valley Bank for their $14 million construction loan, and Frank Weichec, president of the Philadelphia Fresh Food Terminal Corporation, whose merchants are also contributing to the project.
 "In this financial market, this kind of investment stands out. It shows an understanding of the vibrancy of this project and a faith in the food industry in Philadelphia," Hankowsky said.
 Hankowsky reserved particular praise for UJB Financial Corp.'s subsidiary, United Jersey Bank/South, citing "the constructiveness of its negotiations and for demonstrating an understanding of the complexity of the transaction."
 Semrod said he was pleased to support the project.
 "We continue to be impressed by the vitality of this area and we are proud to be a partner in this venture with the Commonwealth, the City of Philadelphia, the Food Distribution Center and PIDC. We understand the food center's key role in providing fresh fruit and produce to the 5 million people of the Delaware Valley. This center is really a Philadelphia institution and Philadelphia is a world-class city that is important not just to Pennsylvania, but also to the economy of South Jersey," he said.
 "This modernization will make an already good market second to none," said Weichec. He thanked the merchants for their cooperation with the project and for their willingness to take on such a risk in a difficult economy.
 The largest portion of the modernization project -- $17 million -- and the first to be done -- will go toward constructing 66 permanent refrigeration buildings at the rear of the two terminal buildings at the PFFT. They will replace refrigerated trailers currently in use, considered to be obsolete, energy inefficient, inadequate in storage capacity and shabby in appearance.
 It is estimated that the new units will cut annual electricity costs, increase storage capacity by 150 percent and reduce spoilage loss because of improved insulation and air circulation as well as a design and capacity which will require less handling of the produce.
 The refrigerated units will also contribute to increasing the attractiveness of the center with their uniformity and attractive exterior design. That design will consist of vividly colored, outsized Plexiglas cutouts of produce available at the center. The cutouts, ranging in size from four to eight feet, will be lit at night, creating a visual gateway to the city from the Walt Whitman Bridge. They will also be visible from I-95.
 Construction of a new entrance to the center with an 18-foot-high clock tower whose clock face consists of produce images is also part of this phase of modernization.
 These modernization elements are being funded by United Jersey Bank/South, First Valley Bank, the Commonwealth, the Food Distribution Center and merchants of the PFFT.
 Other aspects of the overall modernization project to be undertaken in a second phase include a signage program, which will delineate the perimeter and cross streets of the center and identify companies within it. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm Agoos/Lovera and graphic designer Jennifer Pearman, the medallion-shaped signage has fruit and produce emerging from a cornucopia in bold colors of purple, red, yellow and green.
 In addition, six access ramps from the loading docks to the parking area of the PFFT will be constructed; the loading dock area of the fresh fruit and produce terminal and the seafood markets will be repaved; remote parking for trucks will be created and all cul-de-sacs refurbished. This phase of work, $1.6 million, is being jointly funded by grants from the City of Philadelphia and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
 Opened in 1959 at its current location near the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, the Food Distribution Center is home to some 150 companies engaged in the manufacturing, processing, packaging, marketing, distribution and warehousing of food, beverages, agricultural products and related services. These companies occupy some 4 million square feet of space, with annual combined sales exceeding $2 billion and full-time employment exceeding 6,000 people.
 Foodstuffs arrive daily from all over the world at the Food Distribution Center. Daily distribution covers a radius of 150 miles, extending beyond New York City, the Baltimore/Washington area and Harrisburg with special shipments to all parts of the United States.
 The FDC is owned by the Pennsylvania non-profit corporation which bears its name. The corporation operates independently of the City of Philadelphia under the direction of its board of directors.
 Management of the FDC is provided by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1958 by the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to promote economic development in the city.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/12/91/1000
 /CONTACT: Noreen Shanfelter of the PIDC, 215-875-3526/ CO: Food Distribution Center; Philadelphia Industrial Development
 Corporation; Philadelphia Fresh Food Terminal Corporation ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


CC-KA -- PH024 -- 1532 12/11/91 14:23 EST
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Date:Dec 11, 1991
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