If you’ve visited public markets in Seattle, New York or Milwaukee you’ve seen large numbers of people enjoying locally produced food and drink and shopping for artisan goods.
Lenexa hopes to produce a similar experience with a new Lenexa Public Market now under construction at the Lenexa Civic Center, 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard. The center is part of the 200-acre Lenexa City Center that has been decades in the making.
About 60 percent complete, the 11,000-square-foot market will occupy space in the city’s new four-story City Hall. The market is set to open July 31, 2017. Also planned for the Civic Center site is a recreational center and new branch of the Johnson County Library.
Carmen Chopp, the city’s public market manager, has begun soliciting tenants for the market. Target products include coffee, baked goods, local wine, beer and spirits, ice cream, pizza and unique food and drink offerings and products. All businesses will be owner-operated, she said.
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“We plan to have about 18 tenants but will keep spaces open for pop-up carts in order to keep the experience fresh and new,” she said. “We want people to find new things each time they come.”
About 85 percent of the space will be devoted to food items, with the remaining vendors offering jewelry, lotions, soaps and other locally created items.
“All of the tenants will be local merchants,” she said. “One of our goals is to enable small businesses to get into the marketplace and begin growing their businesses,” she said.
Chopp said the city is in lease negotiations with a coffee roaster and is accepting proposals from other interested businesses. “Our goal is to lock down all of the bigger spaces by the end of the year,” she said.
Chopp stressed that the public market will not be a food court, but rather a “dynamic space for Lenexa to showcase the city’s character through local businesses.”
The market will be the only fully indoor public marketplace in the Kansas City area, said Mike Nolan, Lenexa assistant city administrator. “It will be unique in that respect,” he said. “Also, we’re not aware of any other markets located inside a city hall.”
Nolan said city staff visited markets in Milwaukee, New York, Seattle and Washington D.C. to develop the market concept. “Only a handful of these are public markets,” he said. “Here in Kansas City the city market is owned by the city but managed by a private company.”
The second floor of the market will offer a demonstration/test kitchen for cooking demonstrations, classes, pop-up restaurants and private parties. Nolan said the space will enable entrepreneurs to try out tasting menus and new concepts.
“Having the library so close by will enable us to cross-promote and collaborate on educational opportunities centered around food,” he said.
An outdoor strata with tables and chairs will provide additional seating for the market. It will be centered between the market and the proposed new Johnson County Library branch.
An outdoor Farmer’s Market is eventually planned at the site, Nolan said. Scheduled to open in 2018, it will be located adjacent to a parking structure on the 200-acre site.
Nolan said the market will be within walking distance of about 3,000 residents who currently live in existing apartments or will reside in apartment units planned in the area.
“We think the market will be popular with people who live and work nearby as well as visitors to the recreational center and students taking university classes in the same building,” he said. The university tenant has not been announced.