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Murphy store could mirror Philly market

| Friday, June 20, 2003

Downtown could be getting a replica of Philadelphia's famed Reading Terminal Market.

"Kravco is seriously considering turning the vacant G.C. Murphy store on Fifth Avenue into a similar facility," said City Councilman Sala Udin.

Kravco is the Philadelphia development firm charged by the Murphy Administration to develop a plan for the city's Fifth-Forbes and Market Square areas Downtown.

Udin disclosed the idea during this week at a meeting of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership at the Pennsylvanian, Liberty Avenue and Grant Street.

It's one of the commercial development ideas being pursued by Midge McCauley, of Downtown Works, a division of Kravco. McCauley could not be reached for comment.

Reading Terminal Markets, opened in 1892, was to be the state-of-the-art train station in Philadelphia for the Reading Railroad.

Today, Reading Terminal is considered one of the best farmers market in the nation, with vendors offering fresh produce, meats, fish, groceries, flowers, baked goods, crafts, books, clothing and ethnic foods.

If the Murphy building is converted into a replica of the Reading Terminal, it could help resolve the Downtown grocery store goal of members of the Partnership, the Downtown Living Initiative, and the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

Udin said McCauley is expected to present an outline of how the Fifth-Forbes and Market Street area could be developed late this month to Mayor Murphy.

"While part of the focus will be on creating more housing opportunities Downtown, Kravco's major focus will be on commercial development," he said.

Udin added he expects the fruit and vegetable vendors may return to Market Square later this year.

Meanwhile, Patty Burk of the Downtown Living Initiative, is ready to launch a $1.3 million advertising and information program to lure more people to live Downtown.

Her first problem, however, is she has no money to begin the campaign.

But Burk is hopeful that she can entice local corporations and individuals to fund the three-year program, which would include an Internet site, a combination of newspaper advertising, bus signs, billboards and television ads to accomplish that goal.

"In particular we will be targeting the 25-45 year olds, and later empty nesters," she said. Empty nesters are adults whose children no longer live with them.

Already under way is a Downtown living marketing program that will establish Downtown as an exciting and distinctive place to live, said Burk, the Living Initiative's program director.

Other goals include supporting improvement of neighborhood retail, including a grocery store; encouraging resident-oriented neighborhood streetscapes; enhancing transportation systems and parking options to support Downtown living; advocating passage of state historic tax credit legislation; and promoting residential use of vacant upper floors in downtown buildings.

As for a Downtown grocery store, she said several store owners are "interested" in locating Downtown, but didn't identify them.

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