The Philadelphia Regional Produce Market is one of the largest produce markets in the United States and allows local farmers to bring their fruits and vegetables to sell to the public. While the primary audience is the greater Philadelphia area, the Market supplies food from Canada all the way down to the Carolinas. The Produce Market has an incredible outreach and charity mission, donating more than 1,000,000 pounds of food per year to homeless shelters, schools in need and non-profit organizations.
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) partnered with the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market and Essington Avenue Partners II (EAPII) to relocate the Produce Market to an old junk/ scrap yard on Essington Avenue in Philadelphia. Without the agreement for the new, larger site, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania were at risk of losing what is considered an historic and economic regional staple.
The new 667,000 square foot facility will be nearly twice the size of the current facility and the first in the United States to have the entire building fully refrigerated, ensuring the cold chain does not break from truck transport to loading docks to cold storage.
“Our new Philadelphia facilities will enable the produce market to compete and win in the global economy,” says Sonny DiCrecchio, executive director of the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market. “We believe that this facility will be without equal, and as a result we will be able to grow our business, add new jobs, attract new distribution opportunities, and enable Philadelphia to set the worldwide standard for best practices in the food distribution industry.”
In preparation for the development of the new facility, PRPA and EAPII worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to design a cleanup plan to remove all surface debris from the new site, including 400,000 tires, scrap metal, cars, trailers and buses.
Because the site would be nearly all impervious, water quality design flows were very high. Because stormwater would discharge to the nearby Schuylkill River, removing pollutants from runoff was important. There was limited space onsite due to existing utility, including water, sewer and gas lines, plus groundwater elevations were relatively high. Additionally, whichever treatment system chosen had to be reviewed and approved for sizing, design, hydraulics and stage-discharge elevations by the Philadelphia Water Department. The PRPA turned to Pennoni Associates and Contech Construction Products Inc. for a stormwater treatment product that would control these flows and meet all of their needs.
The water quality flow rates were higher than a single system could handle. Ultimately four treatment systems were installed on the site, each incorporating the Vortechs system. The system works by combining swirl concentration with flow controls to create a low energy environment, ideal for capturing and storing fine particles and other pollutants of concerns.
Two of the systems onsite incorporated a unique design where two Vortechs model 16000s were installed in parallel with an 8-ft. x 20-ft. x 8-ft. StormGate bypass structure. The StormGate separates the treatment flow between the 2 systems and also allows for higher flows to bypass. Because of its large swirl chamber (the Model 16000 has a swirl chamber with a diameter of 12-ft.), the Vortechs system provides the largest treatment zone surface area of any hydrodynamic separator available.
Backed by laboratory and field testing, the Vortechs system was approved for use. Plus it was an ideal choice because of its shallow profile. Developers were looking at high excavation costs due to the relatively high groundwater elevations and crowded underground utilities. The Vortechs system has the shallowest depth below invert compared to similar systems, which reduced the amount of excavation needed.
Due to the vast amount of truck traffic on the site additional measures were needed to capture the oil. Contech provided oil-sorbent pads and assisted with details to show an assembly for the mats to fit into the Vortechs. The pads will be installed and removed by a steel wire that is attached to the riser just below the manhole cover. Vortechs systems offer unobstructed access to stored pollutants, along with the oil sorbent pads, making it easy to maintain the system.
The total development cost of the project is $218.5 million. The Commonwealth released $152.5 million to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority to support the relocation and development of the project. The Market vendors will repay 100% of the grants and loans over the life of the 40-year lease on the site.
“This private/public partnership will preserve the Produce Market right where it belongs – in Philadelphia,” said Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. “Without room for expansion and new, modern facilities, the Commonwealth risked losing this vital operation, and the vendors faced the sad reality that they would be forced to break up a South Philadelphia landmark. Instead, the Produce Market will be able to grow and thrive while adding 375 new high-paying jobs for working families and millions of dollars to the local and state economies.”
And with the Vortechs systems in place the Schuylkill River will also be able to thrive.