Last week, I had the privilege and the pleasure of presenting the winning Project of the Year Award to Market Basket representative Kevin Fioli at the Chelsea Awards Night held at City Hall.
The award was a no-brainer, as we like to say in the newspaper industry – as the Market Basket development project was indeed, in more ways than one, the true project of the year.
In a way, it is the project of the decade, that is, an incredible grocery market on a scale never before experienced in this part of the nation and getting off to a fast start in one of the most competitive business areas of New England.
The point to be made here is that this single development by itself represents a giant economic boost for the city in the most obvious ways.
That is it a super market that is helping to change the face of the city is all the more incredible, considering the competitive nature of the grocery store marketplace.
This past year has represented about the worst down market economic time since the Great Depression.
Last year at this time, when the new Market Basket was under construction, it appeared as though the economy might collapse – and in many respects – it did.
The automobile business almost vanished. The baking industry fell apart. The real estate marketplace tanked. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were wiped out in a classic economic collapse.
It was in the midst of all this that the Demoulas Family kept marching forward with their dream child – the new grocery palace in the mall off Everett Avenue.
Without missing a beat, the family finished off the new construction, stocked the 132,000 square foot monolith, and got going at their earliest possible moment.
Now, five months later, a new year on the way, there are the first reports filed about the new Market Basket.
This is a real time experience, with real time people from all walks of life, and with a real time staff – polite, interested, doting always for the customer.
In my lifetime, I’ve never experienced a super market like the Chelsea Market Basket.
It is spawning a legend all its own. Among those who have yet to check it out it is the stuff of anecdote and mythology.
Those of us who shop their frequently can not get over the vitality of it all – the richness of the experience – the lighting and design that makes us feel comfortable inside – and which casts so much good attention to the design aspects of the building outside.
It isn’t just a supermarket. It is a piece of architecture that inspires.
In an editorial last week, I predicted that the new Market Basket is just the beginning of much bigger and better things to come.
Indeed – when the Demoulas put their heads together with their trusted and loyal colleagues, anything is possible.