Coming summer 2020: Lexington’s first and only indoor multi-vendor public market.
That’s right, Lexington is about to be on par with bigger cities around the country with the launch of its own public market.
The Common Market, which is its working name, will be a 23,000 square foot year-round market located in the former historic Southeast Greyhound Building on the corner of N. Limestone and Loudon Avenue.
For those wanting a sneak peak of the new space, you’re in luck. On Saturday, December 7, the Night Market will be taking a new form as the Winter Market to give the community an opportunity to check out the future of the public market space while it is still under renovation.
The Winter Market will be a crossover event and come as a change from the normal “First Friday” Night Market schedule. It will be the largest market hosted by the NoLi CDC to date, featuring up to 100 vendors.
During the Winter Market, NoLi CDC will be announcing the permanent name of the public market and unveiling the logo. The Common Market had been the working name while applying for grants, but it was never intended to be the official name. Instead, the hope was to name the public market after a historical figure who has had ties to this neighborhood and the former building. The permanent name will be in honor of Lexington Civil Rights activist Julia Etta Lewis.
The Common Market is a project under the North Limestone Community Development Corporation (NoLi CDC), a non-profit organization working in the North End of Lexington to connect neighbors with resources and opportunities, and to create programs for equitable community development.
In 2013, NoLi CDC began gathering information about what the neighborhood needed. The consensus revealed the need for more jobs, but more importantly, the need of a place for communities to come together and intersect as opposed to being separated.
The goal of the public market is to do that.
“It’s a place that can be for our neighbors, by our neighbors and about our neighbors,” says Kris Nonn, Executive Director at NoLi CDC. “A place where people can come together, grow their prosperity, support each other, and share their stories.”
The reason the Night Market launched six years ago was to create a platform for neighbors and local businesses to test their products. Over the past few years, the market has created over $1.1 million in direct economic impact.
With the launch of the public market, nothing will happen to the Night Market. Instead, the two will work in tandem. According to NoLi CDC, the Night Market is the first step in starting a business while the public market comes in as the second step for local entrepreneurs to grow their business in a lower risk way.
For the past decade, the historic Southeastern Greyhound Line building at the corner of Limestone and Loudon has sat vacant. In 2017, the building was auctioned. NoLi CDC signed a lease with Needham Properties, who bought the building. Since then, NoLi CDC has worked with neighbors to brand, advertise, secure tenants, design and build the kiosks with help from NoMi Design.
The interior design of the market will accommodate 50-60 businesses and six permanent food stations inside various sized kiosks, as well as an event space for cultural and community events and a play space including an indoor playground.
Nonn emphasizes that NoLi CDC is not building the market for the neighbors, but with them.
“Building it for them is different than building it with them. Everything that has been done has been rooted in hearing their stories, challenges and solutions. It’s working with them to understand how this new change can be a solution. The danger is in thinking you know everyone’s issues.”
After the Winter Market, NoLi CDC will start accepting applications for vendors for the public market. Vendors will not be chosen on a first come first serve basis, nor on the basis of who is most qualified. There will be a graduated pay scale where lower income, people of color, females and neighborhood residents receive preference in terms of selection and pay. This is a part of NoLi CDC applying their equitable mission to the market.
“The most beautiful thing about this neighborhood is that it’s diverse in every way–from backgrounds and education to income and race.” Nonn continues, “No matter the differences, this space can become a place where everyone has an opportunity to take pride and benefit from it.”
This Winter Market will be held on Saturday, December 7 from 1 pm to 6 pm at 101. W. Loudon.
NoLi CDC will announce the permanent name and unveil the logo at 2 pm.
The Common Market is expected to open in summer 2020.
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