Community Input Solicited for North Market Development Proposal
Back in September, representatives from the City of Columbus and the North Market jointly announced that they would begin a public process to solicit proposals for the redevelopment of the North Market parking lot, which is owned by the City of Columbus. Tonight, the same representatives called together a public input session to solicit input and feedback from the community at large.
“So, why are on earth are we messing with the North Market… that’s the one question that everyone has,” stated City of Columbus Development Director Steve Schoeny. “What you may not realize, is that the way the North Market operates depends upon the parking lot fees. We’re trying to figure out if that’s still the best way to support the Market.”
Schoeny added that the best way to determine the potential for the land is to solicit proposals to develop the site, clarifying that if no proposals met the right qualifications, then no development would be selected and the North Market lot would remain as is. He said that this type of collaborative effort is unprecedented.
“For the first time that we know of, we are actually having a tenant of a city property sit on the review committee to help make a decision on what to do with the property,” explained Schoeny. “North Market Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe and his Board Chair are full members of the committee. We won’t be sitting behind closed doors making these decisions without the Market and Market’s Board.”
Wolfe was on hand to represent the interests of the North Market, and pointed out early on that while the public market has roots that go back 140 years to 1876, it has only existed in its current building for the past 20 years.
“We’re currently in our third building on the footprint,” he stated. “This development idea is something that can enhance what we do. Our mission is to support and incubate small businesses, which I think we do a great job of, and this will help keep us here for another 140 years.”
After those brief remarks, attendees at the meeting were invited to stroll the room to weigh in on individual questions and issues as it relates to the future of the market. Some attendees voiced that they want to see better traffic access to the building, particularly during races and special events, while other attendees stated that they want to see an expanded facility where a higher number of merchants and vendors can take residence on the site.
“We’re going to record everything and use this as a jumping off point for a broader discussion,” said Ashley Senn, the City of Columbus Department of Development Downtown + Neighborhoods Manager.
For more information, visit www.northmarket.com.
All photos by Walker Evans.