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Imagine a Permanent Farmers Market in Downtown Austin

KUT News

Is a Pike Place-style permanent farmers market a perfect fit for downtown Austin? The Austin Downtown Alliance held a meeting this morning exploring the possibility.

David O’Neill with the Project for Public Spaces spoke about the concept earlier today. He tells KUT News that permanent farmers markets are cropping up all over the country.

“The elements that are required to make a market successful are here,” he says. “You have a very strong production community, a restaurant community, a farming community, existing farmers markets.”

A permanent farmers market was one of six proposals in a report on increasing the economic impact of Austin’s food sector.

“There’s been an enormous revival of interest in these markets,” O’Neil says. “Most of them are markets that operate in a park, or a parking lot, or a street – some sort of a public open space.” But he adds they can mature into covered market sheds, market halls, and, in the Pike Place model, market districts “composed all of the previous elements – outdoor markets, indoor markets, mixed-use housing, retail, restaurants, storefronts, clinics … They’re great incubators for small businesses.”

How long would it take to get a market off the ground in Austin? O’Neil was part of a market project in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that was launched in a year. But he adds Santa Fe, New Mexico, went through a 12-year community planning process.

Here in Austin, city officials have not taken any formal action on the proposal. 

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