Thursday, April 22, 2010
It's Time To Build A Successful Downtown Market
Recently, I attended an event called NextCity where citizens of Evansville came together and discussed things that need to be done to the city to attract the next generation. One of the ideas floated around was a downtown market.
Unfortunately, there has already been a market in the downtown area but it no longer exists. It was called The Farmers Market and it was on First Ave across from Willard Library. The building was open air and every year young could buy fruits, vegetables, and even christmas trees. Today, a company called Fire & Rain occupies it and the building is fully enclosed.
In my opinion, it failed for a variety of reasons. There was no events around it (in fact the area could be dangerous at night), the infrastructure around it made it tough to access, and it had limited amount of goods to sell. For these reasons, I do not believe that the city or private investor should just pluck a market up downtown and expect it to grow.
For my plan, I have looked at a few different cities to see how they did it. First, the most successful market has got to be Pike's Place Market. Although I find it kind of sickening and morbid to see dead fish being thrown around, the majority of people go to see this at the entrance. But that's not all that is there. There are tons of shops in historic buildings, including the first Starbucks, as well as great views of Puget Sound.
I also looked at what kind of infrastructure should be placed around it. This took me back to my canal idea as I looked at successful retail markets in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Indianapolis. It seems to be a proven fact that canals are great projects to surround your market with.
Going back to the downtown master plan of 2001, they recommended redigging the Wabash & Erie Canal where the current First Ave entrance is. I believe this is the perfect location for a canal and market. However, I would leave room to fully redig the canal in future years. This entails digging the canal all the down to pigeon creek, parallel to the Lloyd, and digging up 5th street all the way past the old courthouse to the old welborn hospital before connecting to Canal Street and heading to the east side.
With this plan, tourists will be drawn to the market from the canal and there will be plenty of other shops and entertainment to keep people coming back.