northside common market
Currently, NoLi CDC has an agreement with Needham Properties, the owner and developer of 101 W. Loudon, to be a major tenant of the project once the redevelopment is complete, to operate a multi-vendor public market. The projected completion date is Fall 2019, with the Common Market targeted to open soon after. In the intervening year, NoLi CDC will work to market and establish tenants for the Market, and to coordinate the build-out of the space into a hub of community interaction and opportunity, with access to local, affordable, healthy products created and maintained by a community-led and community-owned process and structure.
For the past decade, the historic Southeastern Greyhound Line building at the corner of Lime and Loudon has sat vacant. With the Northside Common Market, we hope to change that.
Working with partners throughout the community, Bluegrass Farm to Table principally among them, we hope to rehabilitate the historic SE Greyhound Line Building into a year-round, permanent, multi-vendor public market. We also want the market to serve as an aggregation and processing hub for Central Kentucky farmers to distribute their produce, and a space for Northside Residents to grow new businesses. Annually, the market will provide a handful of Northside residents the opportunity to start new businesses in close consultation with the NoLi CDC - this program will provide a startup grant, marketing, business, and financial literacy training, and free space in the market.
We recognize that the acquisition and construction costs of the market are immense. However, in 2015, we were given the enormous honor of being awarded $550,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help get the project off the ground. While this is just the beginning, we believe this important investment in the project will open up additional funding sources.
Listening and planning
In late 2015, the North Limestone CDC worked with the University of Kentucky's Community Innovation Lab to gather community priorities about Economic Opportunities in the North Limestone Neighborhood through a community planning process. The community analysis focused on three grant areas – community entrepreneurship, neighborhood services and food access within the North Limestone Corridor. As such, macro themes will be drawn from these three areas.
Faculty from the Community Innovation Lab assumed the role of “organizer” during the process, and took the approach of working with neighborhood leaders to facilitate the process. Their analysis specifically focused on the three objectives outlined in the grant:
The following is an outline of the process:
Step 1: Faculty met with community leaders, who specialized in each grant objective area to develop research questions for the broader community.
Step 2: Community leaders were asked to identify/recommend other community members to be invited as community researchers.
Step 3: Faculty met with identified community members to collect their insight regarding the grant as well as train them in the research process - establishing them as community researchers.
Step 4: Community researchers recruited community members to attend one of two community meetings.
Step 5: Community member insight was collected during two community meetings, one was held at the Plantory and one held at Embrace Church. Meetings were facilitated in both Spanish and English by community researchers.
Step 6: Community input was compiled and analyzed by faculty from the Community Innovation Lab.
The areas of interest for this community analysis included community entrepreneurship, food access and neighborhood services as perceived by community members of the North Limestone Corridor. As such, conclusions will be presented according to interest area.
Overall, community members believed local entrepreneurship growth within the North Limestone Corridor to be realistic, if certain support mechanisms were in place. More concrete funding sources, additional education and effective communication (including multilingual dialogue) were identified as important when starting new businesses. While some businesses were identified as ready and appropriate for expansion, there were several new ventures proposed that could be developed in the area. Unfortunately, noted challenges of starting a business in this area proved to be nearly as numerous as the potential new ventures. Challenges were noted regarding necessary funding, a need for education, and limited parking and retail space. But perhaps one of the most salient challenges was the perception the North Limestone Corridor was unsafe, and that crime could ultimately discourage business traffic. Each of these issues is important to note, but the challenges for business development within the area are not insurmountable.
Overall, community opinion about food security in the North Limestone Corridor was dominated by the perception that it is a “food desert”. Community members noted difficulties when trying to identify and purchase fresh, healthy food within the area. Perhaps the most significant challenge noted was financial resources; unfortunately, many community members expressed they are dealing with a “perfect storm” – the heightened cost of healthy food in tandem with the limited income of many residents. This diminished opportunity to purchase fresh food is compounded by easily accessible fast food and competitive stores in the periphery. There are, however, several novel, unique programs in the area that are encouraging increased healthy food access. This movement could be built upon with increased buy-in/resources from the city, which could assist in significantly changing local food access, ultimately improving the local diet.
The future vision for food access in the North Limestone Corridor was varied, with several creative ideas coming to the forefront. Promoting local markets and hosting more sites for farmers markets in the North Limestone area were brought up as ideas for expanding food access. Encouraging expansion of markets in this capacity would make food access more direct for community members and would provide a foundation for healthier eating in the neighborhood. The challenge with the diversity of ideas presented was there was no one “vision” for the future – which makes community action toward one specific idea or goal in improving food access challenging. Still, if done right, these diverse ideas could be looked upon as exciting opportunities, not limiting challenges.
Community members identified local community parks, restaurants and retail businesses as neighborhood services most frequented by the community. Both education and communication were identified as necessary for effective utilization of the services provided. Individually, community members were aware of selective services within the area; however, very few had a comprehensive understanding of neighborhood services provided. Citizen awareness is exasperated by a lack of effective communication (including multilingual) throughout the area. To address this, researchers suggest exploring and potentially implementing various diverse methods of communication.
You can find a link to the full report and findings here.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
We want to know what you want to see this building become. Let us know below.