Escanaba DDA reviews farmers market plans

ESCANABA – If all goes as planned, Escanaba could have a new farmers market that would also be used for other community events including weddings, concerts and downtown festivities.

During Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the board reviewed plans for a multi-use building to be constructed on the current farmers market site on the corner of North 9th Street and 1st Avenue North.

The 8,100-square-foot structure would have an enclosed kitchen, restrooms, and storage area at the north side of the building. The majority of the marketplace would be an open but covered area that would fit 38 stalls for vendors.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $532,000 including demolition, construction, landscaping, and architect and engineering fees.

Architect Barry Polzin, of Marquette, presented the proposal to the DDA board, describing the project as a good-sized building that would be a multi-functional gathering place for the community.

“This gives identity and presence… It’s a social place for the community,” Polzin commented as he presented the proposal in more detail.

He explained that permanent tables would not be built for the farmers market stalls. Vendors would be asked to set up tables or other means to display their goods, allowing an open pavilion area for other events and activities.

There would be a parking area for nine vehicles to back up to stalls along the west side of the building. The remainder of the paved lot would consist of 38 parking spaces.

Rain water from the roof and water runoff from the parking lot would be diverted to rain gardens on the site, he said, explaining the plants can survive in high and low water conditions.

Alongside the enclosed kitchen would be an outdoor seating area with a windbreak wall.

DDA Director Ed Legault said the facility could be used for downtown events and rented out for various activities.

“I’m very excited about this,” he said after Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s going to be a centerpiece the community can be proud of.”

Funding for the project would be sought through grants such as a Farm to Food Grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said Legault who is meeting with a MEDC representative this week.

The DDA has been seeking to improve its farmers market during the past few years and even made offers on an existing downtown building to renovate into a year-round facility.

The current plans for a new structure will be forwarded to the city’s planning commission for a site plan review.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net