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Everett's farmers market site undecided

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EVERETT — City officials say they want a year-round indoor farmers market in Everett.
What they haven’t figured out yet is whether it will anchor the city’s multimillion-dollar Riverfront project — or go downtown.
Initially, the city said the Riverfront project on the Snohomish River seemed like the perfect location. Now, Lanie McMullin, the city’s economic developer, said the city is talking with developers who could incorporate the indoor market into a mixed-used project.
“Someplace else in the downtown core is what we’re leaning toward,” McMullin said.
She said it’s too early to talk about exactly where downtown that market might land.
Condo projects have been built downtown in recent years and at least one is in the works now on the corner of Pacific and Rucker avenues. A farmers market would have instant customers from those downtown dwellers as well as draw people from other parts of the city — and beyond.
“It’s a project private sector finds delicious,” she said.
The plans for an Everett indoor market first emerged publicly earlier this year when the city paid for a feasibility study. That consultant suggested a 35,000-square-foot market could anchor the city’s development project.
The city decided it wanted a second opinion so it paid for another study.
That consultant, Gregory Wilkes of HealthyComm Inc., advised the city that they needed to build a bigger market — 60,000 square feet — if Everett wants to attract enough customers to make a profit.
That’s a little more than an acre of retail space. To put that in perspective, Pike Place Market offers nearly eight times that amount of commercial space — 471,272 square feet.
That bigger Everett market would come with a bigger price tag — $9.5 million, instead of $6 million.
Officials haven’t sorted out who would pay to build it and who would operate it.
“Wherever this lands, it’s going to be a huge spark for revitalization,” she said.
The city would pay to build the market only as a last option and only if there would be a return on the taxpayers’ investment, McMullin said.
It’s more likely that a private developer would pay for the project and hire an outside entity to run it, she said.
The city, county officials and local farmers have worked on a plan for the market for the past few years.
A new nonprofit farmers group called the Growers Alliance has stated that one of its top priorities is a farmers market and Everett is the most likely spot. When that organization is more established, it would be the preferred group to run the market, McMullin said.
Paul Buss, president of OliverMcMillan, the developer working with the city on the Riverfront project, said his company still wants to build the market.
“We know there’s competition,” he said.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197;
Story tags » EverettLand Use Planning

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