“If you want to seed a place with activity, put out food. Food attracts people who attract more people.” William H. Whyte
(Thanks to Vikki Walton for articulating how a public market can serve an early and catalytic role in building economic vitality downtown.)
All across the country cities are embracing the importance of destination venues. When we think of cities in Colorado, we think of the revival of LoDo in Denver and the 16th Street Mall or the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. In cities across the country, destination venues are placed around specific sites such as the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.
The impetus for the creation of a local gathering spot and the ability to purchase local product has resulted in Public Markets such as the successful Seattle’s Pike Place (http://pikeplacemarket.org/), the Milwaukee Market(http://milwaukeepublicmarket.org/main.html) the Grand Rapids Market in Michigan, or the Eastern Market in Washington, D.C (http://www.easternmarket-dc.org/), to name just a few. Cities are considering how they can bring together the diverse individuals that make up their communities. In the process, these enterprises have added value to their cities and regions through expanded business, tourism and social enterprise. Many have successfully melded the various factions found throughout every city to create a hub that brings everyone together.
In Colorado Springs, many entities speak of the need for a downtown renewal or renaissance. Over the years various groups have put out reports on what will they believe will be the catalyst that starts this revival. In most of these studies, two factors are surface as crucial to moving the city forward—young professionals and downtown residential development. Yet, the downtown area is a virtual food desert because there is no local grocer. In addition, there is a lack of a central personal services hub. Consequently, the time is ripe for a downtown Public Market to help generate other compatible downtown development. The investment in a downtown market will multiply exponentially into an economic driver for myriad businesses, retail establishments as well as increasing residential and cultural opportunities.
“Cities today are seeing markets make a comeback, as communities and civic leaders aim to tap into markets’ magnetic ability to attract people and bolster surrounding businesses while improving fresh food access.”