by Janet I. Martineau
|An artist's idea what the pavilion might look like|
One of Saginaw’s success stories is eyeing the idea of a new and improved home.
Julia A. Darnton, the board chair of the seasonal Saginaw Downtown Farmers’ Market at 507 S. Washington, says the open-air market is in need of more room for vendors, improved parking and accessibility, office space for its non-profit management, increased visibility and other amenities.
Speaking at the Rotary Club of Saginaw this week, she unveiled renderings showing plans to erect a permanent open-air pavilion (no tents as is it now, which are vulnerable to winds) directly across the street from the current location.
The new location between Water Street and the Saginaw River would offer 48 vendor stalls (at 10 feet wide, two feet larger than the current 8-foot spaces), office space, a small stage/sound system for performers and cooking demos, restrooms (currently it’s just porta potties), landscaping and a riverside courtyard where people can picnic, level walkways, and 115 parking spaces where the market now exists.
|In orange, the new market location; in yellow, the current site|
And while there are no plans for a year-round operation of the market, she said the new structure could perhaps expand the current season somewhat and also offer a gathering space for others to use when the market is not open.
"We have not gotten any estimated costs for this building project," she admitted, although they do know the land is available.
"We have not even set a fund-raising campaign yet. But we are estimating $700,000 or less.
"It would be a part of the Riverfront Master Plan, and the Convention and Visitor's Bureau sees this as an asset to the future of the city."
Darnton, by day the community and economic development educator for Michigan State University Extension, also served up some quick stats on the market:
-- It was open 22 weeks (82 days) this May/October.
-- The most recent survey indicates an average of 1,644 customers per day, spending an average of $13.26, for a daily sales figure of $12,019. The market pumps an estimated $1.2 million into the area per year.
-- The number of vendors is going up. 24 in 2009, 28 in 2010, and 31 in 2011.
-- The market's operational costs are met by the seasonal or daily fees charged vendors. This year an occasional fish vendor was added. Vendors selling products they grow or produce are charged $325 a season or $25 a day. Vendors selling products they do not grow or produce are charged $625 a season or $45 a day.
-- And the market provides a fresh food/expanded use of money option for a variety of food programs operating in the area for the poor and underserved.