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Growing Hope is looking for a new location to hold the Downtown Farmers' Market next month, as the event's current home may no longer be available.
Amanda Edmonds, executive director of the Ypsilanti-area non-profit, said the parking lot of the Key Bank building, where the Downtown Farmers' Market has been held since its first season in 2006, is filling as the building gets more tenants with more employees.
“There's a lot more people downtown,” Edmonds said of the increased activity at the Key bank building. “That's a good thing.
“We don't want people to suddenly go away from downtown, so we don't really want the problem to go away,” she said.
Edmonds said Key Bank has not told them to leave the space, but with more people working in the building there will be less space available to host the market.
“We haven't been totally kicked out of the space,” she said. “[The parking situation] just doesn't guarantee us a spot for the market.”
Growing Hope didn't want to look far for a new location for the Downtown Farmers' Market as the event has continually expanded every year in its current location, with increased attendance and spending for four years. Edmonds said moving the event to another area downtown could prove to be a step backward and cause a drop in the market's continual success.
“We feel pretty strongly about the location,” Edmonds said. “It takes people time to get used to a new place.”
Last year, more than 15,000 people came out the Downtown Farmers' Market throughout the season and spent a total of $108,327. This averages to $7.07 spent per visit. In 2008, nearly 13,000 people came out and spent a total of $64,905. The average in 2008 was $5.11 spent per visit.
While attendance grew 21 percent from 2008 to 2009, sales increased by 67 percent. There has been an increase in both numbers every year since 2006, when the market began.
Attendance and sales figures are according to Growing Hope's 2009 Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers' Market Season Report.
“We are working through a couple different scenarios,” Edmonds said of where the group intends to move the market.
Edmonds said Growing Hope is looking at closing Ferris Street just south of the Key Bank parking lot, between Hamilton and Adams, and across the street in the U.S. Post Office's parking lot.
Ypsilanti City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting a move for the market at its meeting Tuesday, which Edmonds said got the ball rolling quicker than Growing Hope had anticipated. She said the word got out so quickly about the situation she had to schedule a meeting with representatives at the post office Wednesday, before they heard about the idea from someone else.
The group had planned to work through U.S. Representative John Dingell, D-Mich., to open discussions with the U.S. Post Office, Edmonds said. However, the step had to be skipped to make sure officials at the Post Office heard the plan from members of Growing Hope and not from news outlets or other sources.
She said paperwork will be filed soon to request to have the street closure, which will be done through the usual special events permit process and would require a fee from the organization.
Edmonds said the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority may take up a resolution similar to the one passed by City Council.
“I'm actually really pleased and surprised there hasn't really been any resistance,” she said. “It feels good.”
Initially, the two plans to use Ferris Street or the Post Office's parking lot were developed to cover the bases in case one fell through. However, Edmonds said both could be utilized simultaneously as vendor parking is often limited and an overflow for market area would be useful as the event expands.
“We're moving forward,” Edmonds said. “We'll see what comes of it.”
Growing Hope will be throwing a kick-off event for the Downtown Farmers Market from 2 – 5 p.m. April 20 at the Senior Center on Congress Street. The regular market begins May 4 and operates from 2 – 6 p.m. every Tuesday.
On the Web:
Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers' Market