Update on Farmers Market Project

(sketch by Wei Yee Lu)

Some of the folks interested in seeing a year-round downtown farmers’ market/town center at the vacant Fraser St.-Calder Way lot met on Feb. 1o to discuss the idea further. (Background posts.)

The group decided to work on a rough outline for a proposal – including economic and social revenue data from other downtown, indoor, year-round urban farmers markets – and then circulate the draft before next meeting on March 10. At that meeting (Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at Café Lemont) we’ll add detail to the proposal document, moving it toward a final draft that could be used during presentations to State College Borough Council in April or May, depending on how Susquehanna’s high-rise planning moves along in the meantime.

Ideas Brainstormed Feb. 10:

Legal and Funding Issues Confronting Susquehanna Real Estate:

  • Government Redevelopment Capital Assistance program in Pennsylvania is a line item that might be dropped from the state budget. The Fraser Centre property would need to be developed first, then state would reimburse portion of costs.
  • Developers contract – If their design “substantially” changes, then the Borough can cancel the contract and repossess.

Borough’s Interests – Crucial issue is whether a farmers market could produce enough revenue and public support to be an attractive proposal for Borough Council, from a combination of:

  • taxes
  • rental fees for public spaces
  • downtown draw/community attraction that increases income for nearby
  • businesses
  • achieving Borough’s Strategic Plan goal of enhancing population diversity downtown (increasing non-student presence)
  • other forms of social revenue (community identity, networking opportunities, etc.)

Business plan must address those fiscal and political issues, present solid evidence of economic benefits gained by other communities that have downtown indoor year-round farmers markets, and persuasively argue that social capital and social revenue are important factors to be included in political decisions about “highest and best use” of the Fraser Street lot.

Downtown farmers markets:

Design Ideas:

  • Multi-use, adaptable for different purposes: market, concerts, films, meetings, classes, etc.
  • Available for First Night, Arts Fest events
  • Perhaps qualifiy for state funds by having a large enclosed space with theaters, classrooms, etc.

Networking/Recruiting/Funding:

  • PSU professors and students for architecture, landscape architecture, green architecture designs
  • PSU professors and students for civic engagement.
  • Community resources familiar with grant possibilities, grant-writing.
  • Envinity
  • PSU Center for Sustainability folks, Living Machine at Old Botany
  • Greg Olsen – builder experienced in architectural reclamation.
  • Neighborhood groups.

Related Article – Excerpt:

Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA recently conducted an economic impact study to generate greater support for an upcoming market maintenance bond issue. The market is estimated to have generated nearly $87 million in gross revenue in 2002, which translates to almost $4 million in taxes to the city, county and state. Jobs in the market that year ranged seasonally from 1,500 in winter to about 2,400 in peak season.

Other Reports:

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One Response to Update on Farmers Market Project

  1. Pingback: Fraser-Calder Farmers Market Idea Update | Transition Centre County

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