PHILADELPHIA — A disagreement on how to fix cooling system pumps at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market has stalled repairs at the facility, and market officials have delayed the opening date again, until May.

John Vena Jr., chairman of the facility’s marketing committee, said market officials, the builder and others have “some disagreement” on the proposed solution, and parts won’t be ordered until the issue is resolved.

“Until we can get all the parties to the table, it’s difficult to come up with a solution,” Vena said April 4. “We need to agree on what the remedies will be and then we can work out the time. It’s very frustrating and very challenging but we are committed to making this project work.”

Vena, president of John Vena Inc., said the market must re-pipe electrical lines and make other repairs; the cost isn’t known.

He said he’s confident the people who designed the building want the operation to be as perfect as possible, and that wholesalers should know by April 7 how repairs are going on the failed pumps.

Originally, business at the former market site was supposed to end March 31, with the new facility opening April 3. But just days after a grand opening ceremony, the refrigeration system problems delayed the opening to April 10.

Now, May 1 is the tentative first day of business; with operations at the old market set to conclude April 28.

Mike Maxwell, president of Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., Philadelphia, which plans to move into three stalls in the new market, said distributors aren’t overly worried.

“With a project of this magnitude, if it takes us a couple of weeks or more to get in there because of a couple of errors, that’s OK,” he said. “We want it to be 100% perfect when we get in.”

On March 25, market officials, wholesalers, customers and civic officials ceremonially cut the ribbon on the 667,000 square-foot-plant, which has 550,000 square feet of cooler space.

Note on correction: This story originally incorrectly reported the old market's closing date in the sixth paragraph.

Disagreement stalls Philly market opening — again

File photo

The Phildalephia Wholesale Produce Market, shown here in a file photo, remains empty while the builders and market officials work on repairing the cooling system. A tentative opening date is early May.