St. Louis (KSDK) - It's a St. Louis landmark with a history of more than two centuries in the making. The Soulard Farmers Market is surviving but city leaders say it isn't thriving like it should and could. It's the reason so many say it's time to take action.
Just as the sun was literally about to set on the Soulard Farmers Market Wednesday night, crowds gathered a block south at the 9th Street Abbey to talk about fears that could one day happen figuratively.
"I think this is a great asset for the city and the neighborhood and I would like to see it at its best, which I don't think it is at it's best right now," said Roger Power of Soulard.
"I do think the market needs a facelift," admitted Judy Rubin of Tower Grove.
Both were at the open house hosted by the City of St. Louis where, for the first time, plans for a $12-14 million market upgrade were unveiled. It's something Steering Committee Chairman Peter Sortino was part of the first time, back in 1999, when the vendors said 'no,' fearing rising costs for them.
"I think this time there's a much better consensus in terms of support because it's been 12 years and the market has gotten better, it's gotten worse," Sortino explained.
First and foremost, the physical condition is deteriorating. After all, it was built in 1929. Plus, Sortino said the market could stand to see additions, new signage, a park, more parking, more local vendors and an entertainment venue in the old gymnasium on the second floor. He also wants it open Thursday through Sunday instead of Wednesday through Saturday.
"I think there's also a lot more competition than there was 12 years ago," he said.
"If it's becoming totally competitive with the other farmers markets that are going after middle class and upper middle class, then, I think we'll lose something really valuable in the city," Rubin went on to say.
"Any plan needs to be equable for everybody: the vendors, the developers, the customers, the farmers," Power added. "I just hope it works."
So far, there is no funding for the five-phase project. That means it could take five to 10 years to complete. Of course, that is if this second plan is approved.
To learn more about the master plan, click here.