(03/08/13) - Downtown Flint is getting yet another new tenant.
The Flint Farmers Market announced Friday, that next year, the market is moving.
The market will move from its Boulevard Drive location to the corner of east 1st and Harrison street - that's the old Flint Journal Printing Press Building.
Market officials say this move has been in the works for quite some time. And yes, they're going to transform this old printing facility to a lively produce hub.
The market has plans to open in downtown April of 2014.
There will be three main entrances on the west side of the building, a community room and a demonstration kitchen inside. There's also space for the market's other street side vendors in addition to some other unique opportunities.
There's been some concerns over parking, but market folks say there's plenty.
Surrounding buildings will be coming down and on the other side, more demo to pave the way for parking and of course there's the lot across the street.
"We are going to do the pavilion right around the edge of the building, so the farmers literally on summer market days will be backing up to the walk that goes right along the edge of the building 20 ft over hang so people will be shopping the whole outside," said Dick Ramsdell, Market manager.
It's part of a $32 million redevelopment project in downtown Flint.
The market is owned by the city, but Uptown Redevelopment Corporation manages the operation. They say the new space will allow them to better cater to the needs of their customers, expand into other areas and be more centrally located.
"I'm so excited because this is part of a $32 million development, a health and wealth district, with the MSU school of medicine and masters in public health. We're building 16 lofts apartments across the street and now having the Flint farmers market down here along with some of others in this building. We've got enough parking, we have the people, we want to bring this closer to service people. We have the bus station right across that will service the people who can't get to the market now, so we are very excited about this whole opportunity," said Tim Herman, president, URC.
Reaction to the news was mixed, but pretty positive.
There is a lot of history at the current building, but there is potential to grow business here.
Vendor Jeff Knickerbocker says he knew by the end of the season - he sells plants and produce May to November - that the move was more than just talk. He took a tour of the new building in December.
"It's a beautiful facility. It has the potential to really be great. I'm not overjoyed with the location," he said. "There's a lot of people who don't like to go downtown. Is that going to be a problem? I don't know."
Vendor Dan Reyes is on board with the move.
"You have to view it as an opportunity. Getting us closer to downtown and more foot traffic," he said.
Grabbing a bite to eat Friday, Marianna Bird saw it from both sides.
"For the sake of nostalgia and everything, it's really nice to have it here, but I think it will be good for their business," she said.
Customer Joshua Groat agrees. "I think it'd be great for downtown," he said. "And hopefully change the way downtown is viewed."
A local restaurant owner believes adding the market to the district is a big plus.
"Location is great because it's next the bus station, a little more centrally located, it's great for us because we get a lot of our produce there and I'm glad to have them repurpose the building as well," said Robb Klaty, Flint Crepe Company, Table & Tap.
Not everyone is happy about the announcement, however. An online petition has been started on Change.org to keep the Farmers' Market where it is now.
Supporters of the drive say they would like to see the money invested into the current building. The petition will be forwarded to the Uptown Development Corporation, along with city and state leaders.
The Farmer's Market is holding an open house next Wednesday, March 13 from 10 a.m. -12 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. at the Riverfront Banquet Center - that's where the public can see what the market will look like on the inside.
ABC12 Main Station