Gladstone DDA has big plans

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has big plans for the coming summer months including finishing upgrades at the new farmers market site and beginning renovations on the new home to the DDA, the former Front Row Video.

“The main project of the DDA is working on the community gathering area,” said City Manager Darla Falcon.

The gathering place, located in the 900 block of Delta Avenue, is also the new site of the Gladstone Farmers’ Market. The market was moved to the new location last year, but at that point the site was just a re-purposed parking lot.

Thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the parking lot will be transformed into a multi-use facility including a raised platform for performances, built-in seating, flower beds, and movable furniture.

“We were the only community that received the full $50,000,” said Falcon, adding 24 cities applied for the grant and only 10 received any portion of the $200,000 distributed through the program for community gathering spaces and farmers markets.

The first farmers market of the 2014 season will take place on June 16 from 3 to 7 p.m. A special ribbon cutting event with prize giveaways will take place on June 30 to officially christen the gathering place.

Despite many eager shoppers being disappointed at the lack of vegetables at the market early in the season – an issue that may return due to a long winter that prevented many farmers from working in the fields – the farmers’ market enjoyed a prosperous season.

“Because our farmers’ market was so successful downtown we did end up purchasing the Front Row Video building,” said Falcon.

At the former Front Row Video building, located at 911 Delta Avenue, the site will soon become the permanent home to the Gladstone DDA. A new roof, furnace, American Disability Act compliant restroom, new flooring are all planned for the building to make it more energy efficient and prepare it for the needs of the DDA.

“We have $100,000 set aside for the building,” said Falcon.

Upgrades to the gathering area and building aren’t the only things planned for the DDA. The DDA recently hired a new special events coordinator, Amber Hanson, who started last week.

“She’s going to be spearheading our farmers market, and Crazy Daze, and we’re hoping to have some other events (downtown) as well,” said Falcon.

Hanson will be based out of the new DDA building and work on all of the events run by the DDA including Crazy Daze, which is scheduled for June 21, and Gladstone’s Old Fashioned Christmas, which will take place the Friday after Thanksgiving.