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By Robert Wilonsky
8:40 am on December 2, 2013
Update at 10 a.m.: As expected, the Economic Development Committee voted to send the Dallas Farmer Market’s five TIF agreements to the full council for a December 11 vote. But that was after an hour-long discussion during which council member Jerry Allen wanted to make sure the new ownership group wasn’t just building a “an apartment development around an entertainment thing called a farmers market.”
Said Allen, he was especially concerned about the loss of Pecan Lodge, which is moving to Elm Street in Deep Ellum.
” That’s one of the top barbecue spots in Texas, but it’s an attitude,” he said. “Those guys attract so many folks to the market. That creates an attitude. When we lost that deal that perked my ears up.” He asked Brian Bergersen to explain his “true vision” for the market.
“We’ve always said the most important part of this redevelopment is Shed 1,” Bergersen told him. “That is the farmers market. The retail and restaurants compliment that. But the most important part of the farmers market is making sure we have fresh produce and it’s year-round.”
He said they have a coordinator working with farmers, and that they’re attempting to bring back folks who’ve left in the last couple of years. Council member Rick Callahan also wondered what constitutes a “local farmer.” Said Bergersen it’s someone within 400 miles, but they’re hoping to limit that to 150 miles — though they will bring in “fresh” produce that’s not necessarily grown in Texas during peak seasons. At which point he mentioned Hatch chilis, because Central Market.
He also reminded the council that on its eastern side, Shed 1 will have a band shell — and it’s being developed and assembled by none other than Angus Wynne.
The committee was concerned about spending so much public money on a single project in an area of downtown lacking density — but not concerned enough to delay sending the item to council.
Dallas, though, needs to “connect the dots” between Victory Park, the Perot and the market, said chairman Tennell Atkins, reiterating one of his favorite themes.
“Right now there is a disconnect between the farmers market and the Arts District,” he said. “That’s something we need to do — infrastructure. The market is sitting on an island by itself.”