City Hall

Plan to Privatize Farmers Market Sails Through City Council

Last month, when the city finally released details about plans to privatize the Dallas Farmers Market in hopes of making it a going concern, it prompted celebration among the many who have been dismayed by the market's stagnation and demise.

The proposal calls for a number of improvements, the most fundamental being a restored focus on local produce. And the roster of big names attached, led by Spectrum Properties, suggests that these plans are serious indeed.

Things are moving rather swiftly now. Today, the City Council gave its unanimous blessing to the Farmers Market privatization. This was accomplished in pieces: One ordinance OKs the 30-year lease of Shed 1 to the private consortium; others sell Sheds 2, 3, and 4 and the administration building; another expands the Farmers Market TIF district to actually include the Farmers Market, thereby enabling developers to get a quarter of the $64.3 million they are spending reimbursed through TIF funds.

There was little opposition, just a woman named Trina Trish, who feels that the city is selling a valuable piece of property to a private entity for a song and perennial gadfly Richard Sheridan, who supports the project but complained against the "Nazi-like" administration at The Bridge homeless shelter.

The few others who spoke before the council were much happier. Mark Ruibal, who runs the namesake plant market, voiced support, as did the developer of the town homes across the street. ("If y'all would like to walk to work, we've got quite a few town homes still for sale," he said in a hopeful pitch to council members.)

Tanya Reagan, president of the Farmers Market Stakeholder's Association, was there too. She was little short of ecstatic. The renaissance promised by the current proposal would be a "huge economic positive" and would "turn an area that been distressed and depressed into an area that will be [vibrant] and wonderful."