(Sept. 4, 6:15 p.m.) After years of canceled plans that forced Philadelphia Regional Produce Market tenants to work in less-than-ideal surroundings, a Sept. 4 groundbreaking ceremony on a new market began the construction phase.

The $216 million facility will be built on the city’s south side, at 6700 Essington Ave., about a 10-minute drive from the current market. Most distributors on the old market are expected to move to the new one.

The facility should be ready for occupancy by fall of 2010, according to a news release.

At the groundbreaking, terminal market officials joined representatives from the city, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and local and state legislators, including Pennsylvania State Sen. Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia).

Members of the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market began searching for a new market location in 2002. Several earlier plans for a new market were rejected.

The new, enclosed market will replace the open-air Regional Produce Market, which members say is antiquated.

After tenants move out, the former market will be demolished and replaced with parking lots for nearby professional sports stadiums.