Farmers Market may move to North Lee Street

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2013

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market may have a new, temporary home behind the Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Salisbury has offered free use of the city-owned parking lot in the 100 block of North Lee Street. The market would move to the long, narrow lot behind the visitor information center at 204 E. Innes St., with spillover space available in the larger parking lot closer to the building, city spokeswoman Elaney Hasselmann said.
The market must move from its current location at the corner of East Bank and South Main streets to make way for the expected construction of Integro Technologies’ new headquarters in the 300 block of South Main Street. Construction could begin as soon as mid-summer, Hasselmann said.
“Looking at everything, that seemed like the perfect answer to our short-term needs,” said David Correll, a market vendor and vice president of the board of directors.
Correll and other market directors met with city officials to discuss where to move. Correll said the market appreciates help from city planners and the Salisbury Tourism Development Authority.
Remaining downtown is important, he said.
“That’s an integral part of the new market,” Correll said. “We will be in the center of the arts and entertainment and agritourism district.”
Plans call for the market to use the temporary North Lee Street location for one to two years. The city plans to build a permanent home for the market in the parking lot across from the Salisbury Depot, where police cruisers now park.
The city would try to work out an arrangement with the owner of a private downtown parking lot for police to use, Hasselmann said.
During the recent N.C. Main Street conference, police cars parked in the lot across Kerr Street from the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
The farmers market is expected to open on schedule at 8 a.m. April 20, and the new space should accommodate 35 to 40 vendors. The market’s board of directors will vote on the move Tuesday night.
The temporary location would be one block away from the permanent location.
“It will get people used to coming to that area,” Correll said. “… We didn’t see any options downtown that would be any better than this site.”
The parking lot has some electrical outlets, and water is available at the back of the Chamber of Commerce building, which houses the Convention & Visitors Bureau, Correll said. Customers and vendors can use the bathrooms inside the building.
The market will operate from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The city will not move the large green canopies that stretch over the current market location, since it’s temporary, Correll said. Vendors will bring their own pop-up tents.
The current location has always been a temporary home for the market.
“We have stayed longer than we thought we would,” Correll said.
Customers coming to the new location can park in the adjacent lot or another city-owned lot behind the fountain on East Innes Street, near the bus stop.
The city has applied for a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that would help fund a study of a permanent farmers market in downtown Salisbury. The proposed space would include an outdoor performing arts venue.
The city should learn in mid-April if it wins the grant.
New this year at the market, all produce and products must be grown or created by the vendor, Correll said.
The market usually has between 20 and 25 vendors on Wednesdays and between 30 and 35 on Saturdays, Director Harry Agner said.
For an estimated two-thirds of vendors, their livelihood depends solely or mostly on the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market, Agner said.
On average, the market sees about 1,000 customers on Saturdays and about 750 on Wednesdays. During the market’s 57 days of business, it contributes $750,000 to the local economy, Agner said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.