A model for our Freight House?
A lot of discussion and study has recently taken place on the Freight House. It has the potential to be an anchor for the west side of downtown and for our riverfront, most agree with this. How the dilapidated building would transform to a useful entity is the big question. I agree with comments that to move from Point A to Point B should require limited involvement from the city and should focus on private investment. One community that is achieving this goal with a similar structure is Charleston, WV (Capitol Market). I visited Charleston on a work trip this year - an industrial mid-sized city, not all that different from the Quad Cities.
To incorporate a similar plan, modeled after Charleston, would require the following:
- Keep farmer's market vendors outside in the parking lot areas; this is what they have done in Charleston. The vendors set up camp underneath a metal roof, outside, in what used to be a parking lot. This could be accommodated in the parking lot S of the Freight House, with any spill over moving into the JOD lots to the W. The Capitol Market also transforms this area to seasonal markets that feature: pumpkins, Christmas trees, etc.
- Set up 10 or so areas inside the market (along the N and S walls), with a walkway through the middle. The specialty shops in Charleston included: a meat market, a wine/cheese vendor, an organic foods vendor with fresh produce, a confectionary type vendor, a coffee type vendor, a restaurant with bar, a book vendor, and a seafood vendor.
The kicker was - each of these shops already had a presence in the city. So these businesses were well-established and promoted local business owners and kept the money local. Some potential vendors from the QC, would be similar to: Goolick's Meat Market, Midwest Seafood, Centro, Greatest Grains, Gendler's, Lagomarcino's, Java Station, etc.
I was there on a Tuesday at Noon and the place was packed. People picking up fresh flowers, doing their grocery shopping with carts going from one vendor to the next, eating lunch, and so forth.
I don't have a magic solution to this challenge, but perhaps this model could be worth exploring.
To visit the Capitol Market in Charleston - click here.