Grand Rapids Sets the Stage for a New Downtown Market
In keeping with the goals of the Michigan Good Food initiative, many groups across the state are striving to provide people with better access to high quality local food through the development of new and existing programs. One new program launching this year is the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, a large-scale, multi-million dollar market project in the heart of Grand Rapids.
In describing the Grand Rapids Downtown Market (GRDM), Mimi Fritz, its CEO and President, enthusiastically declared “It’s a market on steroids!” The GRDM was kick-started by Grand Action, a Grand Rapids-based, nonprofit group representing business and community interests. Together with Market Ventures Inc., a Portland-based urban planning and economic development firm specializing in food-based projects, they conducted a market feasibility study resulting in a plan for a new 130,000 square foot market facility that should meet many local and regional market demands.
Mimi stated that Market Ventures Inc. has helped develop a number of markets across the country and in some ways has brought together the best of each in designing GRDM. Mimi said “The area where we are building the market in Grand Rapids is in a ‘food desert’, so off the bat, we are filling that void. Our target market will be the surrounding neighborhoods, those that live and work in the downtown area, all of Southwest Michigan and tourists visiting the area.”
The market will offer a range of products and facilities for visitors. The outdoor market of 90 stalls will be open from 1 to 3 days per week depending on the season. It is anticipated that the market will open on May 4, 2013, in time for growers to sell their first harvests of the year.
The indoor market plan, part of a three–story LEED* certified building, is slated for opening July 1, 2013, and will be open seven days per week all year round.
The first floor will house 24 market stalls with vendors ranging from butchers to chocolatiers, baked goods to artisan cheeses. There will be a farm-to-table restaurant facility as well as several tenants providing food, health, wellness and agricultural education. A microbrewery will also locate there.
The second floor will have an incubator kitchen holding two separate kitchens. They will be available for manufacturing food products, cooking classes, parties and educational programs. All kitchens will have dry and cold storage facilities to support fresh product distribution in the local area.
In addition to the incubator kitchen is a “Kid’s Kitchen” designed specifically with children in mind. The surfaces are on a hydraulic system so the work surface height in this kitchen can be altered depending on the age group of the children.
Also on the second floor will be a 6,000 square foot two-story greenhouse, banqueting space to seat 180 and some offices. The third floor will be leasable commercial space.
Areas of the new development are currently being leased and space allocation continues to ensure the doors open to a thriving new facility offering locally produced, good quality food in downtown Grand Rapids this summer.
For more information on the Grand Rapids Downtown Market please visit: downtownmarketgr.com
*LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is an internationally recognized program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. See new.usgbc.org/leed