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'You Can't Get Rid Of That': Battle Brewing Over Future Of Italian Market Fixture

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A battle over the future of the Italian Market finds itself in the spotlight. It's a classic case of development vs. conservation.

For more than 85 years, Janet Stechman's family has owned Anastasi Seafood and, for more than two decades, the market has sat tucked on the corner of 9th Street and Washington Avenue. The rear is a popular restaurant that serves whatever comes off the boat.

"I'm fourth generation," Stechman said. "My great granddad started selling products right off the street. We have the dorado and the branzino and they're from Greece."

But like the daily catch of the day, "things are changing," Stechman said.

That change could be coming in the form of a proposed seven-story building that will house 157 apartments with underground parking and street-level retail space.

Italian Market - proposed building
(Credit: CBS3)

New York-based builder Midwood Investment and Development plans to bulldoze the building that houses Anastasi Seafood in the Italian Market and build on the land. The empty lot directly behind the building will also be used.

Stechman said she plans to relocate the fish market and has a small spot for it across the street.

But as for the restaurant, she's still looking for a space.

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Longtime Italian Market shoppers, like Dave Riley, say they're glad to see change, hoping it boosts attention to the area.

"It's not like it used to be back in the day," Riley, who's been shopping at the Italian Market for about 30 years, said. "I mean, this used to be really bubbling."

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But they don't think Anastasi's Seafood should have to move.

"Progress and things change but some things you want to keep," Riley said. "That's a fixture, Anastasi Seafood, you can't get rid of that."

The plans to have not yet been finalized, however. They have to be approved by Philadelphia's Civic Design Review board.

That board has asked the builder to redesign the underground parking entrance and resubmit the plans during their May meeting.

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