Year-Round Indoor Farmer’s Market A Possibility

The following excerpt is from an article in the July 2011 Journal Gazette.  The consultant mentions Lawton Park as his top recommended site for the project.  I believe one of the top reasons being the proximity to downtown and attractions on top of ease of parking.  Ease of parking should be at at the top of the list to promote use by the city as a whole, but shouldn’t we make sure a new downtown farmer’s market is walkable also by downtown inhabitants?  A place where current residents at Three Rivers, Midtown Crossing, & Lamplight Inn, could partake in shopping and dining with new residents from the AWB and The Harrison.  Perhaps the land along the river adjacent to Don Hall’s Gas House, or the parking lots between Harrison Square & Baker Street Station.

Either way, I don’t know if a perfect location for this project exists while staying cost effective, but in my opinion this should be a project that deserves public input and funding. Let’s hope we see a solid plan put forward by the city as this is sure to add to the quality of life and the ambience of Downtown.

Downtown Fort Wayne could support a year-round farmers market, a Maine consultant has concluded, but in part because of the city’s “cheap food” mentality start-up costs would have to be minimized – one reason Lawton Park is the preferred location.

The report by Ted Spitzer of Market Ventures is merely a draft, and development of a facility could take two years or more. Even so, the $30,000 study is expected to provide the basis for ongoing planning and fundraising efforts that supporters hope will result in a market that will offer fresh produce, restaurants, shops and other attractions. The initial cost could be as much as $2 million, officials say.

Spitzer spent several days in Fort Wayne in May, gauging support for the proposal and reviewing possible sites. Lawton Park just north of downtown was listed first among nine sites included in the report, with Spitzer noting its ease of access, available land and parking and greenhouses that could be adapted for a variety of functions. “Since the site is already owned by the city, the project will not need to incur the cost of purchasing property,” he said.

A site north of the St. Marys River could reduce a market’s ability to spur additional improvements downtown, Spitzer acknowledged – a fact noted by members of the Downtown Improvement District’s board at a meeting Tuesday. But the Lawton Park site is near Headwaters Park, the site of numerous festivals, and could also help spur development of the nearby “North River” property that has been eyed for several projects but is still vacant.

“There’s still a lot of work to do. We’ve got to present this to the community. There’s still a lot of discussion about what needs to be done, and there could be significant changes,” cautioned city Redevelopment Specialist Sharon Feasel.

Downtown Improvement District President Rich Davis said he had not originally considered Lawton Park a leading contender for the project, but said he was “intrigued” by Spitzer’s recommendation.

Spitzer suggested that a market could generate about $9 million in retail sales from tourists and customers living within a 20-mile radius – enough to support a relatively small market of about 11,400 square feet. A new structure could be designed as a market “shed” that could be mostly open during warm weather and enclosed during the winter.

He noted there are several impediments to success, including a low number of local specialty food vendors, lack of consumer “buy local” education, a “lingering antipathy” toward downtown and the fact that “this is a town that likes cheap.”

But there are strengths and opportunities too, he added, including Parkview Field and other recent downtown improvements, growth in the popularity of farmers markets, and growing ethnic communities that may be looking for a place to sell produce or open businesses.

The city paid the fee for Spitzer, who has been involved in the development of several farmers markets in the United States and author of “Public Markets and Community Revitalization.”

Funding for the project has not been identified but is expected to come from public and private sources.

-News Sentinel

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Categories: Entertainment, RIver North, Riverfront Development, Shopping & Dining

One Comment on “Year-Round Indoor Farmer’s Market A Possibility”

  1. January 22, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

    Hey there, this is actually a nice post. You get my vote for Year-Round Indoor Farmer’s Market A Possibility Downtown Fort Wayne Development and also I’ll bookmark your blog now.

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