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Vendors Bemoan Farmers Market's Move Off Of Nicollet

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Next month, the first steps in redesigning Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis will begin.

The construction project will last two years and will force the popular summer farmers market to find a new home on Hennepin Avenue.

For the last 30 years, fresh fruits and vegetables have been for sale up and down Nicollet Mall on Thursdays between May and November.

The move away from the mall has some vendors worried that the market won't be the same.

This summer and next summer, the street will be filled with construction crews.

"The street will be torn apart," said David Frank, economic development director for the city of Minneapolis. "There will be a lot of dust. It will be noisy. It will be like when you are doing a project in your house, and it's dusty everywhere."

The farmers market will re-locate temporarily to Hennepin Avenue, between 5th and 10th streets.

"They wanted to keep those vendors, those growers as close as possible to their regular customers," Frank said. "So they will organize themselves on Hennepin in a similar way to the way to how they are on the mall today."

Farmers who grow fresh produce to sell on Thursdays said they could take a big financial hit the next two summers.

Scott Barriball, a flower vendor, said vendors rely on the Thursday market.

"Probably 25 to 50 percent of their overall business is Thursdays on Nicollet Mall," he said.

He said the relocation to Hennepin Avenue will result in less business.

"There's a certain feeling on Nicollet Mall that it's wider, it's easier," he said. "There's no traffic other than the buses."

He said Hennepin Avenue will be "a completely different feel."

"Loading and unloading will be a big headache," Barriball said.

But the city said when the redesign work is all done, it will be well worth the wait and inconvenience.

"We should keep our eyes on the prize," Frank said. "The end conditions will be terrific."

Metro Transit buses will also be re-routed during parts of the project.

The goal is to make Nicollet Mall more pedestrian-friendly and green by planting more trees.

The farmers market on Hennepin Avenue opens May 7.


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