The City of St. Louis has unveiled its plan to renovate the Soulard Market and Park.
Physical improvements would include completely enclosing the market, expanding parking options and adding signage that distinguishes venders that are selling locally grown food from vendors that are reselling produce or other food items.
The farmers market would be open all weekend, too.
Citing a survey indicating strong customer demand, the market would shift from being open Wednesday through Saturday to Thursday through Sunday.
Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department Gary Bess says with 14 farmers markets in the area, being open on Sunday will help them stay on top.
“We’ve got a good product,” Bess says. “I think the public recognizes Soulard is the place for a farmers market, and we hope to keep it number one.”
In addition to attracting more customers, officials want to develop new revenue streams including converting the upstairs of the market into a venue that could be rented out for special events.
“The more money we make the more money we can put back into the market to not only make it self-sufficient, but to do some of the improvements,” Bess says.
In all, the project could cost up to $14 million and the proposal suggests funding sources that include grants, donations and a portion of the city’s share of a proposed tax to benefit parks.
“The only way to get started is to get started. And the only way to get started is to find out what improvements we need to do,” Bess says. “And that’s what this master plan will tell us. And give us an idea of what it will cost. ”
There are currently around 90 vendors at the market and Bess didn’t rule out the possibility that their rent may go up to help pay for the project.
The plan also takes into account the unique history of the oldest farmers market west of the Mississippi River.
Alderwoman Phyllis Young says the project will stay within the bounds of her ward’s historic architecture.
“Soulard Market is the entrance to our neighborhood, and it is held as a sacred space by all the people who live here, whether they shop there or not,” Young says. “So, yes, it will fit in.”
Public comments on the plan are being collected through July, 9, after that it will go to the city’s planning commission for final approval.
Work could begin as soon as next summer.