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Private firm has big plans for flailing Dallas Farmers Market

Dallas Farmers Market
The Dallas Farmers Market dates back to the 1940s but has recently fallen on hard times. Wikipedia/drumguy8800
Dallas Farmers Market
Fresh produce is just one element of the Dallas Farmers Market.
Ruibal's Plants of Texas in Dallas Farmers Market
Ruibal's Plants of Texas covers two city blocks at the Dallas Farmers Market, Courtesy of Ruibal's Plants of Texas
Dallas Farmers Market
Dallas Farmers Market
Ruibal's Plants of Texas in Dallas Farmers Market

The City of Dallas is considering handing off management of the struggling Dallas Farmers Market to a private company that includes a number of well-known restaurateurs. The Farmers Market Group won the right to redevelop the market through a lengthy public bid process, assistant city manager Ryan Evans announced on February 15

Farmers Market Group has a detailed proposal to revitalize the venue, with plans to beef up the market's infrastructure and the surrounding community. The group aims to "establish an urban neighborhood for all income levels," including supporting tourist developments in renovations to the Statler Hilton and a $20 million investment to Holiday Inn.

 "Dallas Farmers Market is simply too spread out, too impersonal and too auto-oriented to fit a downtown-type operation," assistant city manager Ryan Evans says.

The groups partners include architectural firm Good, Fulton & Farrell; marketing masters the Richards Group; restaurant veterans Phil and Janet Cobb; chef Kent Rathbun; and Jay Pack, formerly of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co.

"Dallas Farmers Market is simply too spread out, too impersonal and too auto-oriented to fit a downtown-type operation," Evans presentation to the City Council says. 

If approved by the City Council on February 27, the city will be on its way to ink a $3.2 million deal with the Farmers Market Group for three sheds and a host of surrounding property. The group wants to develop several buildings into a combination of apartments and retail.

The public hearing process will take the project through March, and the market could officially switch hands in July. 

More important than initial transaction is the $64.3 million in development that the deal will bring, thanks to a combination of funds from the Farmers Market Group, a Public Private Partnership Grant from the city and a newly increased TIF district.

Dallas will retain ownership of one shed, which it will rent out to the group for $30,000 a year and a share of revenues. 

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