The Colorado Springs Downtown Public Market Task Force exists to:
ENCOURAGE community enthusiasm for the Market, CONVENE stakeholders from government, business and the sustainability community to ADVANCE a strategic plan for the Market, and MARSHAL community resources to IMPLEMENT the plan and ESTABLISH the Market.
The Public Market Task Force consists of leaders and experts across the for-profit, non-profit, civic and academic sectors. Simply put, the ‘Public Market Task Force’ is best described as an umbrella under which many involved and amazing people are contributing time and energy to this exciting goal. “Great ‘Placemaking’ projects can almost always be traced back to one or two driven, dedicated people who are “nuts” about their community.” [Mark Suster, in his piece: What makes a great public destination.]
Within the Task Force we are privileged to have many dedicated individuals who desire to see this project move forward for the betterment of our community. A leadership team has been put into place to assist in these efforts. Together, this group of grassroots volunteers have outlined a vision that we believe will benefit our citizens, increase community and grow our economic and social arenas
The recent study undertaken for Colorado Springs by the Urban Land Institute noted four major themes concerning the downtown area. Specifically noted in the report is that a downtown renaissance depends on additional residential entities on which successful retail depends. The four themes are:
1. Development of downtown as a place for commerce, visitor base camp and a clear economic engine.
2. Creation of a place where “young and young-minded live, work, play, shop, wine and dine.”
3. Relevancy to citizens, the region and nation.
4. Integration of wellness, fitness, health and sports.
While many in the community are in agreement that the downtown needs revitalization, it is also acknowledged that downtown is essentially a food desert where there is no local grocer or personal services hub. Consequently, the time is ripe for a downtown Public Market to help generate other compatible downtown development. All across the country, cities are embracing the importance of destination venues such as public markets. When we think of cities in Colorado we are cognizant of the LoDo revival in Denver and the 16th Street Mall. Successful Public Markets such as Seattle’s Pike Place, the Milwaukee Market or the Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. to name a few, assist in bringing together diverse individuals that make up their communities. In the process, they have added value to their cities and regions through expanded business, tourism and social enterprise.
“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.”
Not only is the public market concept good for community it is important for our economic stability. “Public Markets are potent job creators. In 1977, the Federal Office of Technological Assessment (O.T.A.) conducted an audit of a $6,000,000 federal grant award to Seattle’s Pike Place Market from the Economic Development Administration (E.D.A.). They concluded that the Public Market renovation was the most successful community economic development project in the history of the U.S., at turning one time capital support, into long term, permanent, well-paying jobs.” Aaron Zaretsky, Consultant, Public Market Development and prior Executive Director of Seattle’s Pike Place.
The Public Market Task Force has met on numerous occasions in order to define the vision for the Public Market. As such, we concur there are specific areas that we believe will help make the Public Market a success and benefit the community the most. These include, but are not limited to, a year-round “farmer’s market” and local producers, a truck farm for food distribution and CSA’s, a commissary kitchen, educational opportunities, arts and culture entertainment, events venue, a small business/entrepreneur incubator and mentoring, as well as nonprofit social enterprise collaboration all within a sustainable business model.
The Task Force is made up of committed volunteers who are donating their time and talents to this effort. Currently, this limits resources as we move into the next phases for this project. We understand the need to gain valuable insights from experienced professionals and to be able to provide the tools necessary to ensure success. At this juncture, the costs associated with funding site assessments, a feasibility study and legal issues, are needs that must have capital to move forward. Therefore, we are seeking partners who are excited about the project and are willing to financially support the inception of the Public Market. Care and Share Food Bank has agreed to act as a fiscal agent for this funding to ensure oversight of funds and to ensure accountability.
“Each winter farmers market offers additional opportunities for farmers to generate income year round . . . These investments are a win-win. Farmers have more stability, and consumers have a reliable supply of local food, regardless of the season.” Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan
As more cities realize the importance of a public destination that speaks to every
member within its community, the more appropriate it is to consider the possibility and opportunity inherent within the Colorado Springs Public Market. The Market will impact both the residential and business development downtown. Not unlike Seattle, Milwaukee or other public markets, we believe the Market will be a draw for citizens and visitors alike as well as provide that “clear economic engine” we all desire. Inclusion of café’s, breweries, educational and entertainment options will ensure that the Market is a great gathering place for young professionals, families with children, out of town guests and citizens seeking locally sustained goods. Incorporating wonderful indoor and outdoor spaces connecting to walking and biking will provide us with a more engaged and healthy community. The opportunity presented by a Public Market initiative may be “catalytic” to downtown renaissance goals as presented by the Urban Land Institute study.
Now is the time to act.