The 100-year old Flint Farmers' Market was presented with the opportunity to move into a former newspaper printing plant whose location would allow the market to expand and move closer to the center of downtown. The market, which operates three days a week year-round, consisted of 26 year-round indoor vendors, and 50 seasonal vendors. While a beloved place, the existing market was not large enough to accommodate its growth and the need for major capital improvements. The market’s sponsor took advantage of public/private financing and tax credits to pay for the $4 million relocation cost and identified the need to ensure that the new location’s layout and program would expand opportunities for existing and new vendors while adding new public spaces to maintain the strong social connections the original market was known for.
Initially, PPS prepared a variety of layout options to explore how the market could best be relocated to the new site. Extensive outreach to vendors was conducted by market management and the consulting architect, FUNchitecture. PPS helped facilitate two community meetings to discuss the relocation and to identify concerns and opportunities. Based on the positive response by vendors and customers, PPS advised the project architect and market management on layout, stall design, signage, and all aspects of the markets infrastructure and design. Particular emphasis was placed on the public spaces for the market, both interior and exterior, and developing a connection to the adjacent historic Wilson Park.
The market opened with record attendance at its new location in June 2014. Twice the size of the old market, the new facility accommodates twice many permanent vendors and has an atrium used for seating, vendors, and events; a community room; a roof terrace ; and a kitchen for cooking classes and educational programming. It also houses Flint Food Works, a culinary incubator for local businesses, and the Hurley Medical Center, a children’s clinic that connects health care with fresh food access. Since the relocation, the market has seen a 300% increase in foot traffic, the number of customers walking or biking to the market has increased from 4% (2011) to 21% (2015), and direct sales have increased from $4.9 million (2011) to close to $14 million (2015).
Toward Market Cities: Lessons on Supporting Public Market Systems from Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Toronto brings together new data, analysis, and recommendations about three public market systems across North America.