New Flint Farmers’ Market doubles down on Excitement, Vendors and Parking

By September 10, 2013New Market

Flint, MI – The Flint Farmers’ Market, managed by Uptown Reinvestment Corporation (URC) announced today additional details on plans to relocate the market to the former Flint Journal printing facility at 300 E. First Street.

The move, slated to take place in June of 2014, marks the return of the market to the downtown Flint area after more than 70 years. The new site is about a half mile south of the current Market, easily accessible off the I-475 access road, Chavez Drive, across First Street from the University of Michigan-Flint campus and the beautiful Willson Park.

According to Tim Herman, President of Uptown Reinvestment Corporation (URC) and CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce it’s a great time to relocate the market. “This project is about more than bricks and mortar, it is about preserving a jewel in our community, exposing a greater number of people to fresh, locally grown foods, enhancing the businesses of local entrepreneurs and creating more educational opportunities. Based on the input we received, we feel this new design will better serve the needs of our community.”

Since first announcing in March, 2013, that the market would move back downtown, market officials have been gathering feedback and suggestions for the new site. Based on vendor, community and individual ideas and concerns, the original plans have been modified. The issue of most interest to all parties has been the availability of parking.

The market is pleased to announce that over 100 additional spaces will be added to the site, bringing the onsite total to 338. In order to accommodate this additional parking, the market will be moved to the east side of the Flint Journal print building and the west side of the building will be razed. This will also allow the market to feature the building’s atrium, its most distinctive feature. The four story, open atrium will become the market’s indoor “town square,” facing on First Street and Willson Park.

Razing the western portion of the current building will also create space for an outdoor Pavilion, a replica of the one at the current market, which will extend along First Street between the new market and the Kahn building (old Journal office building). The parking facts are as follows: 100 + additional parking spaces on site = 338 total spaces on market site. New Saturday total: 675 FREE spaces on the east and west sides of the building (flat lot on Saginaw St.: 350 additional spaces, also free and available). New Tuesday/Thursday total: 338 FREE spaces on lot west of the market +70 parallel on the streets surrounding the market. Please Note: the current market has 350 total parking spaces including those available to patrons on Saturdays in the First Merit lot.

Fewer than half of those spaces are utilized on weekdays. Other planned modifications include: Developing the existing multi-story atrium into an indoor “town square” facing Willson Park. Creating a replica of the current outdoor pavilion with 43 vendor stalls along First Street. Adding an additional customer entrance on the east side of the building (four major doors total, three on the west side, one on the east side). Incorporating the existing truck bays into the market storage area for easier vendor loading and unloading. Re-configuring cold and dry storage space for vendors.

Enhancing and relocating the demonstration kitchen. Adding two new kitchen layouts to allow more groups to utilize the incubator/commercial kitchen at the same time. Enlarging the community room with access to the new demonstration kitchen. Adding a mezzanine with leasable space, additional restrooms, market office and vendor lounge opening onto a roof terrace. “We are very excited about the new design. We appreciate all of the feedback we have received in the last six months, and we’ve been listening.”

We believe that these changes will truly make the market a community destination for current market fans and new patrons from Flint, Genesee County, and the rest of southeast Michigan,” said Dick Ramsdell, Market Manager. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling had this to say about the announcement, “It is great to see that the concerns of residents, patrons and vendors have been taken in to consideration in this new plan for the market.” Currently the market has 31 year round indoor vendors and about 40 additional vendors outside seasonally May through October. In the new space, customers will find as many as 47 indoor vendors. The new plan will also allow for easy future expansion should demand warrant it.

The relocation of the Farmers’ Market will be part of a proposed $30 million downtown redevelopment project. To date, the URC has completed projects encompassing 600,000 sq. ft. of mixed-use space totaling $65 million. Recently announced URC projects include: Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine expanding its public health and medical education program; Genesys’ Downtown Health Center; and the opening of Landaal Packaging Systems’ Innovation Center and Corporate Offices.