Ideas for the City Market

edited November 2006 in Lansing
Anyone have ideas to rework or update the City Market?

Ann Arbor's market, in the Kerrytown area, is wildly successful, and has a wonderful boutique grocer indoors.


  • Making it look cleaner would be huge. Putting in new windows (mini versions of whats on the MW lofts), painting the interior, putting brighter, "whiter" lighting in and new doors/entrances. Also, covering the the outdoor areas between the wings of the building with a glass canopy, I think that would be a HUGE boost, maybe make one of the sides a place where people selling plants can have their business and the other a food court (the glass areas.) Also, getting the bussiness to look more proffesional and permant. The big key here, make the entire market cleaner, brighter and more welcoming, because it isn't in very good shape currently and its really a dissapointment.
  • edited November 2006
    IMO, cosmetic changes are the least of the market's worries, though, they would be nice. The dedicated followers of the market have been coming regardless. The problem is that is has few selections. I've never been to the Meridian Farmer's Market, but I hear that the selections are much better. The city needs to intensely market the market to bring in new tenants, and perhaps should think beyond its staple of farm tenants and look for bringing in an independent coffee shop, a destination restaurant, or some other permanent tenants that will work on a day to day basis supporting the market when the farm tenants are down for the year. There has been mention of making it like most farmer's markets in the country be only opening it up one day a week and only during certain times of the year, but I'd like to see the City Market made different and permanent, but, in order to do that they need to attract some permanent 6-7 day-a-week tenants. The fact is, the city is heavily, heavily subsidizing the market, so it doesn't make much economic sense at the momemnt. The market needs some high-paying tenants to take it off life support, and there is not one tenant in their capable of saving the market doing its down time in the winter.

    Just on a side note, I think they did some structural and mechanical work to the market a year or two ago with the most important part being putting in a new heating system.
  • Lmich, I think that you hit the nail on the head, if your going to have the market at all, you need to make it 7 days for the facility. The part time tenants can't support the place, they can supplemant it, but they alone can't do it.

    So the next question I would ask is, what do you guys predict will happen to it. Will the property succumb to budget restraints and get the ax, will the city invest in saving it and overhauling it, or something else?
  • edited November 2006
    There are only a few left on the council that see the historical importance of the market. And, there have been rumors and ideas put out their by the LSJ that perhaps this would be the best site for a new arena if the Lansing Center is to ever expand. It seems despite its age (being on of the oldest continually operated farmers markets in the country), everyone has given up hope on it. As the cities revenue shrinks the City Market has been getting less and less subsidation. It's sad, but I predict it will eventually be demolished. There has been talk of moving the market to other areas of the city, but I just can't imagine it ever being the same.

    Really, if they could find a destination tenant or two to bring in outsiders, that would almost certainly save it for the time being. They need to think about growing the market instead of looking at it as a nuisance. I'd even imagined, and this is far out there, but building another floor atop the market for loft apartments/condos to give the market a steady stream of customers. Or connecting it via an enclosed pedestrian promenade to the Lansing Center so visitors would be more likely to visit linning the indoor promenade with kiosk along the way. Despite it being right behind the Lansing Center it's not in the most pedestrian friendly location, and that's an understatement.
  • I had not heard of the possibility of an expansion by the Lansing Center, that would be quite tragic. Nothing like creating one gigantic stretch of river that would only be used on special occasions, and completely vacant of attractions the rest of the time. Oldsmobile Park definetly was a catalyst for much of the Stadium District and Project, however until the Stadium Project is completed, there is a huge gap that is created by that parking lot and the stadium. When there is no event at the Stadium, it doesn't help the area, and the vacant lot keeps most people from walking from Rum Runners to The Exchange, I mean people do it, but it is just not that big of a draw. The Lansing Center furthers that feeling of a gap, as unless there is an event indoors, it does nothing for the street outdoors. That would be the quintessential mark of poor planning in the modern, new urbanism times.

    Adding another floor to the place could be a very good idea, but I think then you may as well add three. Personally I'm a little stuck on the Kerrytown market in Ann Arbor, its two floors and has a business mix that consists of a bottom floor grocery, that is actually three businesses sharing floor space, a meat market, fish market, and I believe a wine area. The business mix is such that it doesn't directly compete with the farm produce, but shoppers could get most all of their food needs from the various market vendors.

    A stepped building might not be bad, like the visitors bureau building in Old Town. With the right business mix, a very unique restuarant could go in, that could have a nice view, from maybe a third or forth floor vantage of the river which would specialize in products from the market. For that to really work, you would have to expand towards the river, or take the whole thing down and reconstruct closer to the river. Personally I think its a neat building, but it needs so much, I bet the utilities alone are astronomical on that place.
  • I think if floors were to be added to city market it would be better off demolished and rebuilt in a better locaion with a better design. In it's current condition the City Market is no good, in order to draw new customers it needs new and better businesses, in order to draw those businesses it needs to be improved cosmetically.

    On the subject of the Lansing Center expansion I think that it is essential that it be expanded as has been proposed since Hollister's late days in office in '01-'02. The proposed expansion was to be 250,000 sq ft and almost certainly would not have directly affected City Markets fate. It was an editorial in the LSJ that posed the idea of building an arena on the site of City Market, it is a pretty far out but not bad idea. In the end though, I think the City Market needs major overhauls ASAP in order to survive.
  • I'm curious if the Lansing Center expansion would actually do anything.... meaning, there are so few hotel rooms downtown, that who would they book there? Chicken and the egg, but I think another hotel needs to open first, besides the Radisson is a piece of dung.

    I would think that an arena, while not a bad idea, would have to go elsewhere, Lansing Center, Oldsmobile Park, and an Arena all next to each other, would create to many occasional use properties clustered together. Sort of like state buildings, while great to have lunch crowd folks available, they wall off an area (not literally) for example, west of the capitol. The state buildings clustered, close off most possibilities of downtown expansion to anything other than parking ramps or more state buildings. It is sort of like that in Old Town the retailers at Grand and Turner have infinitely more foot traffic than those, across from the Temple Club, before Preuss there was a gap there that people didn't venture down to explore. That is changing now that Preuss is there, but I think the same idea would apply at the City Market.

    To bad the Ottawa wouldn't become a casino. I think most everyone thinks it would be great, and its one of the few businesses that the cost of renovating an old factory, wouldn't detract. I don't see anyone expending their political capital to try that anytime soon.
  • You're right, it is a chicken an egg thing, but most people believe the other way, that you have to put the expansion first to attract a new hotel. New hotels will not take a risk on downtown until the Lansing Center is expanded, especially considering how low occupancy the Radisson posts on a regular basis. The only way a hotel would spring up, is if downtown Lansing suddenly became a regional destination all of a sudden. Other than that, no new hotel's going to be built unless its part of a Lansing Center expansion.

    I'd always wanted to see a new multi-purpose arena where the former Civic Center stood. But, they could still do that, in a way, by squeezing one onto the parking lot of the former Civic Center right in what is no directly infront of the Constitution Hall, and putting up a parking garage across the street behind the Cass State Office Building which, like everything west of capitol is nothing but a surface lot.
  • I always figured that if the Lansing Center was expanded they would work out a deal to build a hotel at the same time. I always thought that a new hotel would go great on the site of the Grandview building and the South Grand ramp, something similar in design to the Amway or J W in Grand Rapids. As for an arena I would rather see it placed either along S Washington or Capitol down by the NuUnion building or maybe up on the Oliver Towers site.
  • edited December 2006
    I think I remember pretty clearly hearing that if a hotel were to be built when the Lansing Center expanded, like most, it would be a convention center hotel meaning it would be attached directly to the Lansing Center (i.e. built as part of the expansion to the north.

    I'm not sure there is a site large enough east of Capitol to fit an arena and the adjacent parking they'd need. In fact, I'm pretty sure there isn't. Any arena would most likely go up on one of the giant lots west of Capitol.
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