The City of Tecumseh’s Market on Evans
The City of Tecumseh’s Market on Evans project will redevelop an abandoned property located in the core of downtown; creating a vibrant public marketplace that will draw the attention of residents and visitors to downtown Tecumseh and provide a venue for the community to access local goods. The site boasts a 4,302 sq. ft. former lumber barn that will be renovated to host 15-20 farmers, crafters, artists, antique dealers and more. Additional growers and artisan vendors will be accommodated outside the market pavilion as part of this open air market concept. The outdoor space will be softened to create a welcoming gathering space for the community with the addition of landscaping and lighting and the incorporation of colorful, vibrant works of art. Community partners stepped forward to provide a majority of the funding for this project that started with acquisition funding from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Examples of contributions include free public Wi-Fi provided by Frontier Communications and significant cash donations from the Lenawee Co. Community Foundation, Tecumseh Area Chamber of Commerce, and over 65 local businesses and residents.
Replicability:This future public market is located in the downtown’s Evans Street Corridor. The Evans Street Corridor runs through the center of Tecumseh’s downtown and is both the northern and southern gateway to the City. Upgrading this corridor and creating a unified, more aesthetically pleasing entrance into our downtown has long been a community goal. A committee involving the City of Tecumseh, Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and several stakeholders was created in order to brainstorm ways to work cooperatively to improve this area. Last year, in partnership with the DDA, the City purchased the abandoned property and began developing plans to enhance the site. From the development of those plans came the idea renovate this barren lot into a public marketplace and functional gathering space for the community. The success and replicability of a project like this rest on a community’s willingness to support the vision, whether financially or with their time and ideas. The enthusiasm around this project came from the idea of repurposing a run-down property into a center of activity that provides a valuable community service. The City has already completed a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $26,000 through community contributions and will receive a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA). The City was able to meet and exceed the $20,000 minimum within the first 25 days of opening the campaign.
Creativity and Originality:It required community vision and planning to create excitement and investment in a blighted and abandoned property, with the hopes of creating a center of community activity and commerce. The existing dilapidated lumber barn could have been torn down and replaced with a use that would not contribute to the corridor or the downtown, or utilized for a barren parking lot. Through community engagement a different vision emerged that plans to save a historic structure and utilize its unique character to create this new vibrant community gathering space- The Market on Evans. The group of community volunteers that shaped this vision have also put forward ideas for community art, non-motorized access features and other amenities that will make the Market a unique experience for the vendors and the visitors alike.
Community Impact:On May 1, 2016, the City launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the project through a platform called Patronicity. We have been astounded by the positive impact the Market on Evans has had on the community, creating curiosity, excitement and involvement in the process. The public was given the opportunity to vote on paint colors for the lumber barn, sponsor trees to be planted on the property and contribute financially to the campaign. We believe the creation of this space will continue to have a transformative impact in this area of our community. For six months each year, from May to October, our new public marketplace will provide the community with increased opportunity to access fresh, healthy, affordable local produce, as well as offering an obtainable connection to nutrition education. The surrounding property owners have already approached the City with ideas on how to integrate their properties into the project and investments they are contemplating. Community groups, including local antique vendors, have already come together to sponsor activities at the site before the renovations have even been completed. The Market on Evans will provide local entrepreneurs with a forum to incubate their businesses and afford them an opportunity to develop their enterprises and ideas into something more substantial. The existing partnership with the Chamber, DDA and the City, will provide Entrepreneurs with access to support services that can then take their business to the next phase and spawn greater investment in the community.
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