RALEIGH — A master plan for the state farmers market, released by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, was greeted with anger by some supporters of the market’s current design. There were almost 11,000 signatures as of Nov. 5 on a petition to “help protect our Farmer’s Market.”
The petition asks signers to send an email to those making decisions about the future of the location, which sits at the corner of Centennial Parkway and Lake Wheeler Road southwest of downtown Raleigh. The suggested email reads, in part, “I oppose any plans that would fundamentally change the face of the Raleigh State Farmers Market in ways that are not reflective of the mission of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.”
A statement from Steve Troxler, the commissioner of the N.C. Department of Agriculture, provided to North State Journal acknowledges these concerns. While attempting to assure worried farmers, business owners and consumers, he also defended plans to develop the area in response to both the rising land value and the building of the adjacent Dorothea Dix Park.
“The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services understands there is community concern about the future of the State Farmers Market in Raleigh,” Troxler said. “We look forward to working with our vendors and patrons so that the market can reach its full potential. The State Farmers Market has done what any responsible organization does and has a plan for its future.”
Troxler said they do not have plans to cancel leases for any vendors, but they are obligated to lease the vendor locations at fair market rates and the “appraisal values of real estate have dramatically increased.”
The Department of Agriculture contracted with HH Architecture, a Raleigh firm, to create a master plan for the future of the market. This plan, which was linked to in the press release, said the future site will “[p]rovide a mix of residential options in the form of townhouses, apartments, and condominiums in addition to office and retail spaces.”
The petition was particularly opposed to these residential developments on the property, saying not to “trade our farmers market for luxury, high end, expensive condos !”
In addition to new residences on site, there will be a relocated barn for events, a hotel, retail, taverns and restaurants, and other attractions. Areas bordering the Dorothea Dix Park would connect to that larger property with trails and green spaces maintained in collaboration between the parks.
Those organizing the effort against the master plan also object to the fact that charities like Meals on Wheels and the Interfaith Food Shelter would lose their current locations at the north end of the market property.
In the Department of Agriculture plan, the site would continue to host the farmers market and vendors, but space on the 75-acre property would be shared with many other initiatives. Troxler’s statement also said the plan is likely to change and would not be completed any time soon.
“It is important to remember that any changes will be many years, possibly 25 years or more, down the road,” Troxler said. “Any master plan is the beginning and can change over time based on future demand and the highest and best use of land for the public and vendors.”
The plan would take about $80 million to complete, and Troxler said they do not think this funding will materialize in the near term.
“While no one can be certain what the market will look like in 25 years, our goal is to provide the best possible outcome for people who sell and buy at the market,” Troxler said.