Rumors are flying around Flint that there is serious talk of moving the venerable Flint Farmer's Market from its current and longstanding location on the banks of the Flint River to a downtown spot, with the possibility that the market might move into the old Flint Journal printing facility, which is now empty.
This sounded far-fetched to me when I first heard it. After all, the market seemed to be thriving the five times I've visited over the past few years on trips to Flint. Given Flint's economic track record, why mess with something that appears to be doing well? And why destroy one of the few icons of old Flint that's still more or less the same as it was when the city was thriving? Hey, while we're at it, let's get rid of Halo Burger and the Citizen's Bank Weather Ball.
Then again, the market is managed by Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, the non-profit entity that's been involved in several downtown redevelopment projects over the past few years, including Blackstone's Pub. Uptown Reinvestment is closely linked with the Mott Foundation and the for-profit Uptown Developments. In fact, Uptown Reinvestment floated the idea of relocating the market back in 2003 in a document outlining its vision for Flint entitled Initiatives for Uptown: Flint Uptown Reinvestment Strategy:
"Relocate the Farmer’s Market to the current bus transfer station (between Harrison and Wallenburg Streets): The reinvestment strategy calls for a new residential neighborhood on the east side of downtown. The relocation of the Farmer’s Market would be an excellent amenity for the adjacent residential neighborhood and would be seen as a neighborhood amenity. Moreover, the Farmer’s Market will generate more activity and people for downtown, particularly on weekends."
Sources indicate that the bus station location has now been abandoned for the old Journal press building. Some vendors at the Farmer's Market are against the plan and would like further investment in the current historic location instead.
Uptown Reinvestment purchased the Journal building and the printing facility shortly after the newspaper moved to a smaller location on Saginaw Street.
The rumors prompted an update on the Farmer's Market Facebook page today:
Some questions about have been tossed around regarding the Market moving. A proposal was put forward at an Uptown Reinvestment Corporation board meeting to explore possible uses for the new and recently vacant Flint Journal press facility. One of about a dozen options listed was the Flint Farmers’ Market. The board will be working to identify the best use of the space and will be seeking input from the community at large and the organizations that may be considered as future tenants. At this point we are just one of many options and once we have more information we will communicate with all of our stakeholders. Thank you for your understanding, we hope this helps clear up an confusion.