Developer Has Big Plans for Garden City Farmers Market

2019-04-12 | Idaho Press-Tribune

GARDEN CITY — Garden City’s 34th Street Market will continue to operate in the same lot this summer, while it waits for a more permanent home in the coming years.

Hannah Ball , owner of Urban Land Development , has plans for a farmers market plaza that would span 34th Street , covering 40 lots she owns. It’s up to Garden City and the Ada County Highway District to give her the go-ahead to begin construction on the plaza next year.

She sees the market as the first step toward a bigger development that she envisions with up to 300 units for homes and businesses near the river.

“My thesis is to design everything around a farmers market,” Ball said.

She hopes the farmers market will act as an incubator for small local businesses in what she believes to be the next Treasure Valley hot spot. Garden City provides an untapped opportunity in the Treasure Valley . In Boise , much of the river runs through public parks, but in Garden City , a good chunk of the land along the river is zoned for commercial development.

“We wanted to energize (the area) and we wanted to bring some community use to what used to be a trailer park,” she said.

The farmers market is scheduled to run June 1 through October this year. Capital City Public Market, which runs the outdoor Saturday market on Eighth Street in Boise , will operate the 34th Street Market, Ball said.

To operate the market in its current lot, Ball will have to obtain a conditional use permit. Garden City Planning and Zoning will hold a public hearing on the issue on April 17 .

While the market would be seasonal, Ball hopes the opportunity for businesses to get their start at the market will translate into them opening up brick-and-mortar shops in the surrounding area, creating a year-round, pedestrian-friendly district in Garden City .

The plaza would offer roughly 300 units, residential and commercial, when fully built.

Prior to being a lot for the outdoor market, the end of 34th Street was a trailer park, which Ball bought roughly two years ago.

She said she gave tenants a few months to leave and allowed them to take the trailers if they chose and not pay rent while they were on their way out. She eventually leveled the small gathering of trailer homes to make room for a new project.

“Ultimately I thought to myself, do I really want to be a landlord?” she said. The answer was no.

Ball said she sees the future of 34th Street as a “vertical urban project.” If it works out, she sees high-density, mixed-use spaces that accommodate both commercial and residential tenants.

“We’re estimating the door count to be around 300,” Ball said. “It’s going to be a large project, but we’re confident we can pull it off.”

Ball lived her teenage years in a trailer park in Garden City . While she isn’t ashamed of her experience, her hometown didn’t provide her a sense of pride.

“What it was in the past was completely fine,” she said. “Let’s make sure the future is better.”

Ball said some perceived her as “anti-trailer park” or “anti-poor,” which she said isn’t a fair assessment. Still, while she was in the Army, she became keenly aware of how much pride others had in their hometowns, and how little she had in her own.

“I want my child to say, ‘I’m from Garden City , and I love it,’” she said.

To achieve that, the things that are built going forward need to be usable community amenities that are open to everyone — which is how she sees 34th Street Market’s role in the future of the city.

In an ideal situation, the farmers market would be the nucleus of a hub of restaurants where owners could source their ingredients directly from the farmers selling at the market, creating a true “farm to table experience,” Ball said.

The plan is ambitious, but she hopes to see this transformation in three years. In the end, Ball hopes to change the image of Garden City .

“I always believed it has more potential than just a trailer park, and I really want to add a community focus,” she said. “I just wanted to sort of balance it out.”

Roots Market looks to fill void in ‘food desert’

Lea Rainey and her partner, Zach Yunker , were one of the early takers for spots in the area of 34th Street .

They co-founded Roots Market, set to open at 3308 W. Chinden Blvd. , just around the corner from Ball’s farmers market. Rainey said there’s no official open date set, but they’re within 90 days of opening to the public. The building is owned by Ball.

Garden City qualifies as a food desert, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture .

“Communities that have access to food … they thrive,” Rainey said.

Before picking a space in Garden City , Rainey and Yunker examined residents’ access to grocery stores. She discovered the closest grocery store to their shop on Chinden Boulevard was 3.5 miles away.

“It’s definitely an underserved community, and we all know that,” she said.

Rainey and Yunker are Boise residents.

“We originally incorporated Roots in April,” Rainey said. “We started looking around Boise (for spaces).”

However, the two spend a lot of time in Garden City with friends, and felt they could fill a void.

“We knew about the artists district going in and we thought that was a great place for us to be,” she said. Rainey said she sees Garden City as “the new Hyde Park ,” or at least it will be some day.

Rainey’s vision fits with the spirit of a farmers market. She wants to support local businesses, farmers, artisans and other makers in her market, while reducing environmental impact. Rainey believes the option to buy in bulk will help keep costs down for customers.

She plans for Roots Market to be “zero waste,” meaning all of their packaging and bags are either reusable, compostable or recyclable.

“It’s how we all used to shop 50 or 60 years ago,” she said. She’s hoping to bring that trend back.