The State has hired Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a nonprofit consulting firm, to make recommendations for a public market near Haymarket to showcase “Made in Massachusetts” foods. The announcement was made at the fifth meeting of the Parcel 7 and 9 RFP Advisory Committee, a group of citizens tasked with creating guidelines for development on two parcels adjacent to the Greenway. PPS is the same consultant previously hired by the Boston Redevelopment Authority for a similar Market District Feasibility Study.
Jeffrey Mullan, Transportation Secretary, and Scott Soares, Agriculture Commissioner, said the State has $4 million funded so far out of an estimated $10 million in seed money needed to get the public market built out. PPS was awarded $130,000 to complete the study by April 2011. The State is targeting the public market to open in 2012.
The Public Market is expected to be located on 30,000 square feet inside the ground floor of the Parcel 7 parking garage building between Congress Street and Surface Road. The location has been empty since the building was developed ten years ago as part of the Big Dig.
Soares said there are 7,100 farms in Massachusetts, up 27% since 2002. Cranberries are the top crop, generating $70 million of the total estimated $500 million of farming revenues in the State. The growth in local farms is attributed to the “buy local” trend and less development of agricultural land. In addition, the State actively promotes “Agri-Tourism.”
A representative for the Haymarket Pushcart Association said it was important that the local public market does not compete with the Haymarket vendors. Commissioner Soares said they do not anticipate the local public market will sell bulk wholesale fruits and vegetables in direct competition with Haymarket which is supplied by the Chelsea Wholesale Produce markets. In answer to a question about winter products, Soares said the market could sell year-round products such as fish, cheese, grains, jams and preserves. Developer Phil DeNormandie spoke from the audience about his desire to sell beef from his 500 acres of local cattle farms.
Many participants at the meeting strongly advised PPS to consider a Parcel 9 ground-level marketplace and the outside sidewalk area of Parcel 7 as part of the business plan for the local public market. The adjacent triangular shaped, unbuilt Parcel 9 plot is expected to have some type of market on its ground floor. This space could be used for pushcart vendors looking for a more permanent retail space. Today’s outdoor Haymarket is only open Thursday through Saturday.
Despite a sign saying “Boston Public Market” on the site, the State said the non-profit organization named the Boston Public Market Association has not been designated for the site. Although the BPMA has long advocated for the site, the State expects to pursue a competitive bidding process.
There was also a discussion about how the RFP process for Parcel 9 and the rest of Parcel 7 should continue before the Public Market study is completed. An ongoing series of public meetings is expected.
Correction: This post was edited to clarify a statement made by Commissioner Soares that incorrectly said the local public market would not sell fruits and vegetables to avoid competition with the Haymarket vendors. In fact, Parcel 7 local public market will sell local fruits and vegetables, but not bulk produce from the Chelsea Wholesale Produce markets which supplies Haymarket.
Parcel 7 & 9: Advisory Committee Moves to Next Stage