Pecan Lodge's recent defection for Deep Ellum seemed to bode ill for the planned renaissance of the Dallas Farmer's Market. Despite that, developer Brian Bergersen says things are actually looking up for the $64 million-plus redo.
Bergesen, who purchased the long-struggling market from the city six months back, told the Dallas City Council that Shed 2, the enclosed pavilion that Pecan Lodge will soon depart, is almost fully leased. Same with Shed 1, the part with the actual farmers.
Some of the farmers are new, recruited by a full-time farm coordinator hired by Bergerson's group. Some are returning after moving to the smaller markets now thriving in Coppell, at White Rock, and elsewhere.
"Since it became private, we've had a lot of interest from farmers who have left the market to come back," Bergersen said. "And we're opening our arms to all those people."
The work of overhauling the market is scheduled to begin in February with a 11-month redo of the streetscape and parking surrounding the market. A $1.2 million gutting of Shed 1, which will double stall space and eliminate cars, begins in August, followed by Shed 2 in October.
Sheds 3 and 4, the mostly vacant home of produce dealers, will be razed at the end of the year and replaced with a mixed use development with about 240 apartments and ground-level retail space.
Also to be demolished are three warehouse buildings on Taylor Street, which will be replaced by another mixed-use development starting in March 2015, this one with 60 residences and 25,000 square feet of retail.
Last up is the community garden and futsal fields, which also start going in in March 2015.
Bergerson and his backers will wind up covering about three-fourths of the total costs. The City Council's Economic Development Committee this morning preliminarily approved his request for $15 million in TIF reimbursement, a number that will likely increase once designs for the street and parking improvements are finalized this month.
Councilman Jerry Allen, reminiscing about a recent visit to the farmer's market in Portland, Oregon, worried that too much focus was being put on the buildings and not enough on the market.
Bergerson worked to convince him otherwise.
"The most important thing for us is making sure we have fresh produce, making sure we have it year round," he said.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.