Farmers market to open in Wrenn House parking lot

  • Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013 12:22 a.m.

SALISBURY — First “Sleepy Hollow,” now the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market.

The parking lot at the former Wrenn House restaurant certainly has become a popular place lately.

After searching for a new temporary location for months, the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market will open on schedule April 20 in the parking lot, located across from the Rowan Public Library. The TV pilot “Sleepy Hollow” used the lot as base camp during six days of filming last week.

The farmers market has had a temporary location for nine years on city-owned property in the 300 block of South Main Street. But the city plans to sell the land to Integro Technologies for a new $4 million headquarters.

The market’s board of directors considered several other sites before settling on the Wrenn House parking lot, owned by the Maxwell Chambers Trust Fund of First Presbyterian Church Elders. The market will use the property at no charge.

“I’m glad a decision is made,” chairman Mike Turco said. “For a while we thought we were homeless.”

The market considered moving to another city-owned site, but the narrow parking lot behind the Gateway Building would have made moving large trucks in and out difficult and displaced downtown workers who park there on weekdays, Turco said. The market operates from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Turco said the market directors appreciate help from the city of Salisbury and Downtown Salisbury Inc. to find a better location and keep the market downtown. Turco said they approached the Salisbury Mall at one point but never heard back.

“We wanted to try to stay downtown. That’s one of the attractions of the market,” said Turco, who advocated for the Wrenn House location. “I always thought that would be the perfect place for the market.”

The Wrenn House restaurant is vacant, and if the Maxwell Chambers Trust lands a new tenant, Turco said the market will have 90 days to move.

“They don’t foresee that happening,” he said. “We hope to be there for one year.”

The 50-space parking lot will have plenty of room for vendors, whose numbers peak at about 35, Turco said. The parking lot has power but not water.

Turco said he’s talking to city officials about the possibility of making water available to vendors, but growers who need water on market days may have to bring their own. The water is turned off at the Wrenn House.

Ultimately, the farmers market should have a new, permanent home in about two years. The city has applied for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help pay for the market design, which will include bathrooms and an outdoor theater.

The permanent location is tentatively planned for the parking lot across from Salisbury Depot, where police officers park their cruisers.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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