Farmers market will stay downtown, not move to mall

SALISBURY — The Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market has declined an offer from Rowan County commissioners to move to the former Salisbury Mall, but organizers may consider a winter market there next year.

The market will open this spring in the Wrenn House parking lot at 115 S. Jackson St. in downtown Salisbury, where locally grown produce and food were sold last year, according to Mike Turco, president of the Salisbury Farmers Market Association.

“We really like that location,” Turco said. “With the uncertainty of the mall … why move and then in a couple years have to move again?”

The county bought the mall in December for $3.425 million and commissioners renamed it West End Plaza. Commissioners have said they intend to renovate the 320,000-square-foot mall and move county departments there, alongside the existing businesses and others they hope to recruit.

But Turco said the future of the mall is too uncertain for the farmers market to uproot and relocate at the intersection of Jake Alexander Boulevard and Statesville Boulevard.

“They really have no plans that I’ve seen,” Turco said.

Vendors were neutral about moving to the West End Plaza, but customers voiced strong opinions about staying downtown, Turco said.

“We got a lot of negative feedback,” he said.

The market association will consider using the West End Plaza as an indoor winter market in November and December, he said.

Questions about the former mall include whether the county will remodel the property, how much it will cost and where commissioners will get the money, Turco said, too many questions for the market to make a commitment.

“The politics around here are totally confusing to me,” he said. “We try not to be in the middle of everything.”

The city of Salisbury, tourism authority, Downtown Salisbury Inc. and other groups recently completed a three-day design workshop with architects from across the state who came up with ideas for a permanent farmers market and cultural plaza on North Lee Street.

A steering committee will make a final proposal.

Turco said the association wants to see what will develop with the movement to give the market a permanent home downtown.

“The city has really done a lot for us,” he said. “We are receptive to their ideas.”

The market was located for years on a city parking lot on South Main Street but had to move when the city sold the lot to Integro Technologies for a new headquarters.

Turco said the market’s board appreciated the county’s offer.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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