Muskegon's new $3.8M downtown farmers market lays groundwork for year-round activity center

The decision to move Muskegon's already successful farmers market to a new location in the center of the downtown has had its hurdles and challenges, but work has begun on a new $3.8 million facility that includes a performance stage, a certified commercial kitchen for startup food companies, and an ice skating rink.

The market, now located at 700 Yuba St. just outside the city center, draws some 10,000 people every Saturday and hundreds of farmers and other vendors from Ottawa, Muskegon, Oceana, Newaygo, and Mason counties, says Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

The new market at 1 Market St., bounded by Western Avenue, Terrace St., and Morris, will offer flexible-sized stalls that will accommodate from 130 to 150 vendors in the outdoor portion of the market, which features permanent roofs over each stall. The stalls include electricity, lighting, and water hookups, which the existing farmers market doesn't offer. An indoor market building provides space for 20 vendors. Onsite and offsite parking in area lots and streets will accommodate over 600 cars.

"We really worked with the farmers to design it for them," Larsen says, adding that the farmers had input on every aspect of the design. The market will also act as a marketplace for artists, craft fairs, car shows, holiday markets, and other events when the Muskegon Farmers Market is not scheduled.

But Muskegon's downtown community is banking on the market being more than a destination for shoppers.

"The whole point of our market is to build our downtown," Larsen says. "It's not supposed to be 'come to the market and leave,' but to 'come to the market and then go shopping in the downtown.'

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation of Muskegon County, and the Paul C. Johnson Foundation spearheaded development of the marketplace.

The market opens in May 2014.

T4 Group: construction manager
Paradigm Design: architectural design
Schultz Transport: excavation

Source: Cindy Larsen, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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