Farmer's Market to Relocate! Why not Downtown?

October 25, 2006 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Jacksonville Farmer's Market on Beaver Street is being forced to relocate. Instead of letting this local cultural institution move out to the suburbs (like Florida Coastal School of Law, UNF and most of downtown's retail base), lets attempt to move it downtown before its too late. Why? Click on read more to find out.



Jacksonville’s Beaver Street Market in 1976 


Constructed in 1938, the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market is only major public market left in the city.  Purchased by Beaver Street Fisheries in 1985, this marketplace still draws hundreds of customers each week for a wide selection of fruits and vegetables. Activity at the market comes in waves. Typically, before dawn, farmers bring their crops in for wholesale. The wholesale distributors and restaurant owners arrive soon after. Later, homemakers and passers-by make their way through the tin-canopied sheds.  The peak season occurs during the summer when as many as 30 farmers start hauling in corn, peas, okra, eggplant and other crops. It is not uncommon for farmers and vendors to travel 150 miles to bring their vegetables and fruits to Jacksonville.  We learn this week, that the JEDC has approved an incentive package for Beaver Street Fisheries to expand, that will force the historic marketplace to relocate. 

With our mind set on revitalizing the core, we at the Metro Jacksonville community feel our elected leaders and community have the perfect opportunity to come together in working to make sure the relocation of this vibrant and historic marketplace happens closer to the downtown core.

The Farmer’s Market’s sheds are located at the base of the Beaver Street viaduct.  Most communities would love to have something like this still in operation in the inner city.  While many struggle to attract the vendors needed to make a market successful, we already have them.  With the market being forced to relocate, we need to take advantage of the situation and find a way to get a replacement facility closer to the downtown core.  This would be beneficial to all parties, because a higher profile location means more customers for the vendors and a downtown market brings additional visitors into the CBD, as well as increases the possibility of market rate revitalization around the facility.




B.  HISTORY & CONTEXT OF MARKETS (an excerpt from



The once thriving tradition of public markets in the United States can be seen in all too few cities today. Most markets closed, were torn down or converted into other uses and it is important to understand what has worked and has not worked with recent public market programs as we investigate future opportunities and challenges. PPS’s market program also studies the experiences of other markets and their impact on places. These markets – i.e., Pike Place in Seattle, Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, and North Market in Columbus – show the tremendous opportunity for public markets in today's world of shopping malls and retail chains. These markets also show that with careful planning and investment, along with effective management, public markets can again become centers of sustainable local economies and community life. 

The future of public markets, rely on the places in which they are found. Truly successful public markets become catalysts and centers of entire districts where a variety of places to shop, stroll and be entertained are found. The area becomes a place where people want to live. Public markets create a critical mass of activity that enhances an entire area. Public markets are not contrived theme parks however, but real places. With the right plan, business mix, and management a public market can represent a real step forward for the enhancement of the local economy.



Photos of Washington DC's Eastern Market

Historically, markets have been proven to do the following:

1. Renew Downtowns and Neighborhoods 

a. Act as an anchor for local businesses Encourage spin-off development

b. Enhance real estate value & tax base

c. Keep dollars in the neighborhood

2. Bring Together Diverse People 

a. Create places for people to gather

b. Enable mixing of diverse ethnic, cultural, & age groups

c. Encourage sense of pride & volunteerism

3. Create Active Public Space 

a. Bring new life to underused spaces

b. Reduce actual crime—and perceived security— by bringing people together

c. Create engaging walking environment  

4. Provide Economic Opportunity 

a. Low start-up cost Small business incubation

b. First step for new immigrants

c. Opportunity for surrounding businesses

5. Shape Growth and Minimize Sprawl 

a. Support compact, walkable communities

b. Help preserve open space and family farms

6. Promote Public Health 

a. Increase access to fresh, affordable food

b. Reduce isolation and depression

c. Support community garden and urban agriculture projects 



For full PPS.ORG article to sections B & C:




Shaded in red, the current market is just west of the Beaver Street Viaduct in Durkeeville. The aerial reveals how site constraints prevent it from interacting and intergrating with its surroundings.


The criteria used for the suggested locations come from the following post, made by a MetJax forumer called Riverside Planner: 


I shop at the current Farmer's market at least once a month, and pretty much every week in the summer. Much of it's space needs are due to the fact that a number of produce distributors and restaurants shop there for their produce and some have pretty good sized trucks (10-15 ft box trucks). I've always thought that the market was one of Jacksonville's most overlooked opportunities for funky economic development. On any Saturday, you can hear many languages, get very fresh and seasonal produce and generally mingle with a wide cross-section of society. It's hard to say just how many vendors there are there; it definitely varies with the season and some are quite large. Perhaps 20-30 on Saturdays? A few of the larger vendors are there during the week as well. One factor that could limit relocation opportunities is that at least one vendor has live chickens and the occasional goat.

Based on my experience shopping there, as well as planning experience, I'll offer up the following locational criteria:

*4-5 acres at a minimum; more if expansion is a future possibility
*located on a minor arterial roadway or higher (truck traffic)
*Permanent covered structures, could be a "shell" with truck bays for vendors

Because this is a working 7-day-a-week market and not just a neighborhood/tourist/weekend farmers market, location within a more industrial area is probably ideal, especially given the chicken vendor. Also keep in mind that it's current location is Jacksonville's equivalent of a "meat-packing district". There is a certain synergy from similar businesses located near one another. However, I think this market could definitely benefit from a more visible location. Are there any blocks in LaVilla that are still available? Or Brooklyn perhaps?

The NC state farmers market outside of Raleigh off I-40 is a great example of what the Jax market could be and should aspire to. It doesn't take a lot of money to make a farmer's market great. Ours has the vendors, but the physical structures are abominable.

I encourage everyone to check the Jax market out sometime. You can't beat the prices and it is nice to buy directly from the grower or small distributor rather than Publix. That's my 2 cents.

With this in mind, the following sites, meeting the suggested criteria were mentioned by Metro Jacksonville forumers:


A new location within the immediate area, yet closer to downtown, makes LaVilla (with an abundance of underutilized city owned property) the ideal location for a new and improved farmer's market.  A stronger connection with downtown would open the market up to economic expansion opportunities focusing on additional products and foods produced in the First Coast Region. 

1. Red Overlay – Lee Street parcels 

Site characteristics: 

-   Three undeveloped city blocks owned by the City of Jacksonville

-   Combined, parcels make up 4 acres site


-   Adjacent to Prime Osborn Convention Center and future JTA Transportation Center 



-   Direct skyway access ties site in with both the Northbank and Southbank CBDs, making 

    the market a needed everyday destination anchor for the skyway’s

    rarely used convention center line.


-   Location makes it possible for downtown and Brooklyn residents to access market

    without the use of a car.


2. Yellow Overlay – Load King Manufacturing Co. warehouse 

Site characteristics:

-   4.7 acre abandoned site owned by Load King Manufacturing Co.


-   contains 46,000sf warehouse with loading docks (could be renovated into indoor

    public market)


-   Located a short distance from existing market on Beaver Street.  Could spur

    revitalization of a struggling warehouse district separated from downtown by I-95


-   Direct access to downtown core provided by JTA’s existing free downtown trolley bus line.



3. Blue Overlay – Myrtle Avenue 

Site characteristics: 

-    4.7 acre undeveloped site off Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn

-    Immediate access to I-95 via Forest Street interchange (now under construction)


-    Would tie in with proposed McCoy’s Creek greenway and JTA Transportation Center.


-      Environmental issues and Myrtle Avenue “subway” could be a concern.


-    Property owned by City of Jacksonville




4. Springfield Warehouse District – Former Setzer complex


Site Characteristics:


-          Available 4.6 acre industrial complex with rail access


-          Includes 140,000sf warehouse and 27,840sf cold storage warehouse


-          Main Street and MLK Expressway both within 5 blocks of site


-          Could become northern destination anchor for Historic Springfield and spur revitalization of historic warehouse district



Pike Place Market - Seattle -


Findlay Market - Cincinnati -


Eastern Market - Detroit -


Portland Public Market -


The announcement of the market's need to relocate and its potential effect on downtown has not been heavily covered in the local media.  With JEDC's approval of Beaver Street Fisheries expansion incentive request, the time is now to make it known that every effort possible should be taken to find a new location for this local institution in or near downtown.  To do this we must get the word out ASAP!  If you would like to see this market relocated located downtown please take the time to contact the JEDC, DVI, the City Council and the Mayor's Office or send letters to local newspapers endorsing the idea.  Thanks for your support. 


Project for Public Spaces: Public Markets Collaborative

PublicMarkets/ USDA Farmers Market Resources


North Market: Columbus, Ohio

National City 2nd Street Public Market: Dayton, Ohio

Erie Street Market: Toledo, Ohio

West Side Market: Cleveland, Ohio

Capitol Market: Charleston, West Virginia

Lexington Farmers Market: Lexington, Kentucky

Eastern Market: Washington, DC

Granville Island Public Market: Vancouver, British Columbia

Portland Public Market: Portland, Maine

Reading Terminal Market: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lexington Market: Baltimore, Maryland

Chelsea Market: New York, New York

Soulard Market: St. Louis, Missouri

Grand Central Market: Los Angeles, California

Grove Arcade Public Market: Asheville, North Carolina

City Market: Kansas City, Kansas

River Market: Little Rock, Arkansas

St. Lawrence Market: Toronto, Ontario Canada

ByWard Market: Ottawa, Ontario Canada