The City Finally Revealed Plans For a Privatized Farmers Market, and It Looks Pretty Cool

TaylorStreetRedo.jpg
For the past three years or so, the city has been actively seeking a private developer to take the Farmers Market off its hands. It finally found one last summer, but details were kept tightly under wraps as a final deal was hashed out.

Those details were released, very quietly, on Friday afternoon in a stack of memos for Wednesday's City Council briefing.

The Dallas Farmers Market is great. Why get rid of it?
Sorry, but the Farmers Market kind of blows, and the city knows it. Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans starts off his briefing with photos showing flocks of pigeons occupying vacant stalls, broken-down trucks that have become permanent storage space for some vendors, and a nearly empty Shed 1 which is the hypothetical heart of the market, where local farmers hawk their wares.

And that's not even mentioning a cavernous Shed 2 that remains mostly empty despite the popularity of Pecan Lodge and the city's $3 million investment; the market's relative isolation from downtown thanks to acres of warehouses and parking lots; and the fact that pedestrians have to dodge cars while shopping for produce thanks the roads that inexplicably bisect the sheds.

All of which goes some way toward explaining how the city has lost $3.7 million over the past six years on the market, according to the Morning News.

OK, so the city sucks at running the Farmers Market. Whose Who's going to do it better?That would be the Farmers Market Group, the blandly named consortium of mostly local food/real estate/entertainment types who submitted the winning bid to take over the market.

The lead developer is Spectrum Properties (the company behind downtown's Third Rail Lofts) which has enlisted a slew of fairly big Dallas names: Restaurateur Janet Cobb is part of the group in charge of operations and programming; chef Kent Rathbun is one of two "farm coordinators." Six Flags Over Texas scion/promoter Angus Wynne III will handle entertainment; The Richards Group will do advertising and branding; Good Fulton and Farrell is in charge of design.

What's the plan?At the heart of the redevelopment is a renewed focus on local produce. Shed 1 will be renovated to double the number of stalls for area farmers and "re-oriented for pedestrian use," meaning no more cars. Meanwhile, Sheds 3 (dominated by produce wholesalers peddling non-local fruits and vegetables) and 4 (currently unused) will be demolished, replaced by a mixed-use development featuring 240 apartments and ground-level retail.

Shed1Redo.jpg
The new, vehicle-free Shed 1.
In Shed 2, the plan is to upgrade the building in hopes of attracting more local restaurants and specialty food vendors who will make the place less empty. In the same spirit, there will be a beer garden on the building's north side. Directly across from Shed 2, in place of the mostly vacant buildings on Taylor Street, FMG has plans for cafes, a rooftop deck, and a band shell. As for the current administration building, that will soon double as a cooking school.

And no Farmers Market would be complete without a futsal field, which is like soccer but smaller and more obscure. It will occupy a little-used parking lot to the southeast of the market, where it will share space with a community garden.

What's in it for the city?The only piece of the Farmers Market the city will keep is Shed 1, which it will lease to FMG for $30,000 per year, plus a share of revenues, plus streets, sidewalks, and the like. The rest -- Sheds 2-4, the administration building, the remote parking area -- it will sell to Spectrum for $3.23 million.

The real benefit for the city, though, is twofold. The deal brings a $64.3 million development (a quarter will be reimbursed via the Farmers Market TIF) to an ignored corner of downtown that has only recently begun to show signs of revitalization. It also puts a large, potentially valuable chunk of land onto the tax rolls, since it will be in private, not city hands. Kind of a no-brainer.

The sale is slated to be finalized on July 1, with Shed 1 renovations slated to begin in October. All the improvements are scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.


My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
dfmfriends10
dfmfriends10

Good cover on this story, Scott....a couple of things (and Ryan Evans presented the same at the city council briefing today) is that Shed 4 is not empty. They have wholesale markets that open from midnight-ish on till morning. There have been Midnight Chef Walks and it's quite active. But, blah, blah....I just want to say that the plan is great. I've hesitated as so many and so much will be affected. But I'm going with this group and this plan. It's like an all-star cast of principals and it looks exciting. That said, there are a few groups who will make sure they live up to their vision...; )

Roman Soto
Roman Soto

My question is will Pecan Lodge survive and form a part of the re-done Dallas Farmers Market? Or something like it as good? Better get my Pecan Lodge incredible baked sweet potatoes while I still can! Overall though I'm a fan of the new plans. We needed it.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Before this completely disappears Has anyone thought to ask the Real Farmers/ Growers ...What amenities they might like to have or things they might want to see in a Real Farmer Friendly  Market ?..

I don't think  the dealers that have set up shop  in the Sheds  for years qualify as Farmers because  they  purchase the stuff the sell from the wholesalers across the street . 

But you might ask them as well .Before you run them off . Then the place will be totally empty .

nbaxter11249
nbaxter11249

Last went to the Dallas Farmers Market about ten years ago.  While there, and parked on one of the market lots, our car was broken into.  When I reported it to a Dallas Police officer, he told me it was my mistake for parking there.  I took his advice and never went back since I don't believe in making the same mistake twice.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

From the drawings....looks like they will be catering to black or white shadow people only.

tomhoop
tomhoop

So where are we going to park our cars, how will real farmers who have to haul produce in be accommodated, by removing 40 parking places improve our experience, in the middle, lots of questions. i live downtown, and in the last year or so have driven to the little markets about town.

manpanties
manpanties

there has to be space for a decent skate park.  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

So, I'm guessing this plan will turn the FM from someplace I like to go and buy good fresh produce, into something trendy, hipster, and expensive?

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

"Whose going to do it better?"

Whose? WHOSE? Whose what? Do you mean WHO'S, which is a contraction meaning WHO IS? Yes? Okay cool.

Ambelleina Warwillow
Ambelleina Warwillow

I love the current FM, but yes--taking the parking out of the shed will be AWEsome. And will give us more room to walk away from the guys forcing melon slices on me.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Most important of all, it means that the people who are responsible for the success of the place have skin in the game.  As long as the city was running it, it meant that there was always going to be a separation between the efforts and the rewards.  DFM was a classic tragedy of the commons.  Now that someone has ownership of it (even an amorphous conglomerate like we have) I expect it will turn around.

FMStakeholder
FMStakeholder

Eric, Last year the city placed an interim director in charge of the DFM who within 10 months was able to balance the budget and essentially break even for 2012 (The City budgeted to be around $350,000 in the hole). The Market lost ZERO money in 2012. What does that tell you about the city's past management of the DFM?  It proved the Dallas Farmers Market can be successful. The beaucracy and political involvement with the tenants, business and operations has got to go. Most recently, the market has had more vagrants loitering, panhandling and congregating than customers.

elbuenonobueno
elbuenonobueno

Could not ask for a better plan. I believe they nailed it because they are accomplishing things that had to happen:

1. No more cars in the sheds

2. Limit number of sheds

3. Redesign Shed 2. This should have much more of a Ferry Plaza Building feel to it, ONE central aisle with shops and restaurants on either side. The current arrangement of stalls is incredibly awkward and the lack of interface with the outdoors is deplorable. Great way to keep Pecan Lodge at the DFM.

4. Strengthen residential/entertainment component

5. Activate central spine. Again, current situation is awkward and the vehicular nature of it makes it lose the feeling of intimacy.

6. Take control. The city was letting a great and unique asset fester and become irrelevant. The city turning it over is perhaps the most important thing happening.

Kristi Holder
Kristi Holder

it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION after all is said and done  its still going to be in the same location . Have they done any studies to see if folks who have an interest in those items would be willing make the trip to shop there after such changes are made ? 

The  Farmers Market and surrounding area  have Wallowed in its own brand of slimy  filth for years.

On the other hand The are Some very well clean and managed Trendy Grocers  with ample well lit parking and more welcoming if not convenient locations  in our area that specialize in fresh Fruits Vegetables Meats and Dairy which cater to the wants and needs of those shoppers . And are making a tidy profit doing so.

We are generation or two  removed from the Farmers market being relevant. 

Just build some more apartments and move on



Tomas
Tomas

I hope they consider making Shed 2 dog friendly.  Part of the fun of going to markets in other cities is the festival like atmosphere.  That atmosphere was always defeated in Dallas by the harsh signs saying that you could not bring your dog into shed 2.

downtownworker
downtownworker

@tomhoop The presentation posted on the Dallas Morning News mentions that Sheds 3 and 4 will be demolished for apartments that include private (264 spaces) and public (358 spaces) parking.

travishuse
travishuse

@RTGolden1 I think the general concept is to turn the FM into something that's "economically viable."

Keeping it as it exists currently just means that there'd be no iteration of the Farmer's Market in the future.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@RTGolden1 You may ended up surrounded by arm-sleeve tattooed, bad facial hair cooks with undue arrogance all hoping to get cast on Top Chef.

Drew
Drew

@Tomas I don't want to worry about dogs crapping around produce. Keep your pets away from a FM.

FMStakeholder
FMStakeholder

@Tomas last week the City Master Plan was announced that included two new parks in the Farmers Market District. Harwood Park located on Harwood and Young and Bow Tie Park located on Cadiz and Park.  Both these parks are within 1-2 blocks of the Farmers Market.  A perfect place for dog's, families and children to visit while at the Dallas Farmers Market.               http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2013/02/updated-masterplan-for-downtown-parks-calls-for-major-new-green-space-throughout-central-city.html/

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

@Tomas Same reason you can't bring your dog into a restraurant. It's a shame the love for your dog limits your experiences. If you won’t go to an event/place that doesn’t allow dogs, your love has gone too far. You and your dog need time away from each other. Just like any relationship, brief breaks can be good. You get a chance to miss each other; and, as a result, appreciate each other. Keep this in mind and spend time alone with your human friends. Also, allow your dog to spend time with his canine friends too.

tomhoop
tomhoop

@downtownworker @tomhoop  I am concerned with getting my purchases to my car. After purchasing a small box of peaches, a lug of tomatoes,some cantaloupe, and the assorted bags of vegetables, I will need a shopping cart. They can do them like Aldi. 

Tomas
Tomas

Sharon, I generally agree with everything you said.  It's a shame you have to be so rudely judgmental to make a point.  I don't take my dogs to restaurants, never have.  I prefer to relax when I am out and not have to worry about them.  They spend plenty of time by themselves every day and always enjoy dog parks.  That all being said, I would like to enjoy a Saturday morning together walking them through the Farmer's market together.  We used to do this often on weekends when we lived in California. 

observist
observist topcommenter

@Sharon_Moreanus I think the old axiom "if you love somebody set them free" is problematic when applied to dogs. 

monstruss
monstruss

@cantkeepthetruthdown @Drew @Tomas That's just because you're a racist asshole. 

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...