Year-round farmers market planned

Apr 08 , 2008

By Sheldon S. Shafer
The Courier Journal

A group of local investors that includes actor William Mapother is planning a year-round farmers market on a one-acre parcel on East Jefferson Street that it bought for $1.1 million.

"It's a very exciting idea," said Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, noting that the market would be in the heart of a rapidly developing area east of downtown.

Besides Mapother, the market's development group, NuLu Bridgestone LLC, includes film producer Gill Holland and his wife, Augusta Brown Holland, daughter of recently retired Brown-Forman executive Owsley Brown II and Christy Brown; and businesswoman Lois Mateus and her husband, contractor Tim Peters.

The group recently purchased the old Disney Tire tract on the north side of Jefferson between Shelby and Clay streets.

The property had not been in active business use for at least two years, said real estate agent Tim Hollinden.

Abramson said the city will share with the investors a nearly complete consultant's study that suggests a downtown year-round farmers market would be feasible.

The study, by Market Ventures of New York City and Karp Resources of Washington, D.C., cost $150,000, with the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board putting up half the money.

Abramson said city leaders want to help the developers come up with a business model "focusing on how we can get more farmers in the surrounding area engaged."

Abramson said he doesn't see a year-round market as competing with several dozen successful neighborhood markets that operate from spring through fall.

Gill Holland said the consultants' report will be helpful but not critical to the market's success. "We want to find a way to do this," Holland said, adding that the group may seek to bring other investors into the venture.

The investors plan to renovate a large warehouse and a smaller office building on the property, which together have about 25,000 square feet of space.

Brown Holland said the goal is to pattern the Louisville market after such successful projects as the Pike Place Market in Seattle and Chelsea Market in New York City.

She and her husband said they want to offer one-stop shopping for not only produce, but also some meats, fish and perhaps even wine and cheese. The plan calls for several places to eat on site.

The Hollands said all five partners are committed to developing the market on the site, which is near I-65 and in an area where hundreds of homes are under construction, including the Liberty Green redevelopment.

"We all are great believers in downtown," Brown Holland said.

Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089.

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