Farmers market site for downtown Johnson City approved, design still in works

Gary B. Gray • Aug 4, 2013 at 2:10 PM

The City Commission voted Thursday to make the new downtown farmers market site official and to cap the project’s cost at between $1.5 million and $2 million.

Architect Thomas Weems has offered up various design options, but commissioners sent him back to the drawing board to redesign the market with the addition of a covered stage. Representatives of the farmers market say the size of the market’s current location is inadequate for both the short and long term.

The market will be located just across Wilson Avenue, a few steps north of the new Founder’s Park.

Preliminary drawings show Wilson transformed into a bicycle and pedestrian path. A drive-thru is planned for the market’s south side as well as canopy-covered parking for 60. The city plans to add 25 spaces for overflow and an additional 50 spaces will be constructed on Commerce Street.

Construction estimates have fluctuated. But at this point, the assumption is that $1 million is available through TIF funding. Plus, the city has budgeted $350,000 for site preparation.

Remaining questions include:

• What should be built considering the added cost of architectural fees?

• Does the current location and design meet short- and long-term needs?

• Are the identified funds the financial cap for the project?

“Commissioners have now officially approved the location,” City Manager Pete Peterson said. “The city will oversee the project, but specific plans still must be finalized.”

Weems said Friday that he will now be designing a multi-use space at the site that can be used for storytelling functions as well as outdoor concerts. This space would incorporate a covered stage.

“We don’t know yet just where this would be placed,” Weems said. “My thought is it would go more toward Main Street. We’re not quite to the point of knowing how many market stalls will be constructed, but the structure will be about 18,000 square feet, which would be the maximum size for the budget we have. We’re not starting over — just making a few changes.”

Weems is being paid $35,000 for his services.

Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said city officials are also looking at where to put the restrooms. And since there’s a lot of stonework at Founder’s Park, they also will be using the same style of stone on the column supports at the farmers market.

“We want to make it flow through to integrate both the park and the market,” he said. “We’ll probably put pavers down on Wilson, which will be closed to vehicle traffic.”

The new farmers market is part of a long-term downtown revitalization strategy unveiled in May 2012 by the Washington County Economic Development Council.

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