A Shoprite grocery store may soon bring Atlantic City out of what officials are calling a food desert.

The state agency overseeing an effort to lure a $13.5 million supermarket to the city voted this week to designate Village Supermarkets LLC as the developer and operator of a 40,000 square-foot grocery store near the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Village Supermarkets owns 30 Shoprites in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

“Addressing food insecurity is a top priority,” said state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority President Matthew Doherty. “A city like Atlantic City deserves to have a grocery store of a Shoprite level.”

The four-acre site on Baltic and Indiana Avenues is owned by the CRDA and will be rented to Village Supermarkets for $1 a year in lieu of paying property taxes. It’s currently the site of a parking lot and out-of-service groundwater filtration facility.

The CRDA last year ramped up efforts to attract a supermarket developer to the city after a report by governor-appointed special counsel Jim Johnson identified the 48-block resort as “a food desert.”

Johnson wrote that one-third of the 38,000 residents live under the poverty line and have “limited access to a regular provider of high quality food.” The only other chain supermarket in the city is Save-a-Lot, a discount grocer.

Doherty said he met one Atlantic City resident recently who described her routine of boarding a bus to a Pleasantville grocery store 10 miles away and taking a $25 taxi cab back to the island.

“That’s the reality of what families in Atlantic City deal with on a daily basis,” he said.

The agency in 2018 entered into an agreement with consultant company Uplift Solutions to search for a new grocer.

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This article was originally written by Avalon Zoppo for NJ.com