The Chicago Tribune’s Stew reports today that a modified [ed., very!] version of a public market will be opening downtown, in the same building now hosting the latest incarnation of the Block 57 art projects (66 E. Randolph, across from the Cultural Center).
The current plan is to have an ever-changing roster with at least 5 growers of produce, 25 non-produce products and 10 books, plus special items and Chicago favorites. Expect the mix to evolve.
I have mixed feelings about said effort. I have been long encouraging a public market in Chicago. One not as, well, real as Cleveland’s or Seattle’s, but at least in the vein of what they are trying in Minneapolis and Milwaukee. It would be good for the locavore and the farmer to have a fixed, year round, market. One featuring not just produce but an array of local products such as meat and milk. It would especially solve the issue of fresh meat for the local consumer.
My misgivings with this project are that it is both incomplete and in competition with private efforts such as Cassie’s Green Grocer and Marion Street Cheese. I want something grand. What exactly will be on offer here. The press release (as reported) makes it sound more like a mini-farmer’s market. We are the city of Daniel Burnham, no? Make no small markets. Then, make it fair and real. A real public market has an equal system that allows vendors to sign-up at market rates. Who has the skin in this game. You have people, like Cassie, who have made investments. This hardly seems fair.
Like I say, there’s a lot of me that is happy about this; happy to have something, a start, a market there all the time. Yet there is another part of me that does not like much of what is happening here.