Help save Salem’s beloved Farmers Market!

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Recall your years of family memories at Salem’s Farmers Market.

  Salem is now considering a proposal to build a hotel above our Farmers Market (selling the buildable air rights).  A recent change to Building Code allows for all Downtown Business District (DBD) buildings to be built up to 80 vertical feet (8 stories) “by-right” (2 stories higher than County Jail).  Graphic designer Stella Reinhard, has offered an alternative vision of an improved open air market space.

Her vision expands the space by maximizing the City Hall & Lawn’s potential.   Citizens hope the City will still welcome input despite the City Manager saying that residents “already had their input” during the Plan process and cannot comment until after proposals are chosen/voted on. But this property was not presented as a possible build site during the Downtown Master Plan process, and the Jan 29, 2017 legal ad “Request for Proposals” did not specify the Farmers Market property at all. We respectfully request the City invite residents into the process now before any of these properties or their air rights are sold.

Alternative Community-centered vision:  Reinhard submitted her sketch and proposal as an alternative vision after hearing of the potential hotel.  Her vision creates one cohesive “plaza” offering outdoor “destination” possibilities clearly desired in the City’s plan. A new Main-Street-facing columned side porch offers passers-by a charming view of City Hall, a line of porch rockers entices visitors and adds instant “Southern Charm,” and long porch steps double as “stadium seating” during events,

Maximize the Lawn: Add several picnic tables along a tree-lined creek, an upgraded quaint “bridge,” a bandstand and surrounding “dance plaza/gathering area” and you give Salemites a beautiful area for music, speakers, dances, fundraisers, civic events and festivals, while enhancing Salem’s identity on our websites and brochures. Decorative paver pedestrian walkways could join City Hall Green with Salem Farmers Market doubling this event-space’s size—all for the cost of a porch, some long steps, a bandstand and some landscaping.

Why not a hotel on the Farmer’s Market space?  Why replace Salem’s ideally located, most successful downtown venue in the very heart of our downtown, with a hotel built over a flooding creek that also exacerbates downtown traffic problems and needs incentives?  Linking the Market to a maximized City Hall lawn is exactly what downtown needs. Hotels can locate elsewhere near downtown (for more info, other suggested locations, reasons “why not here?” see https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSalemVaFarmersMarket/ ).

How can you help?  Speak up now before the City acts.  Please share/like/follow our Facebook page/this flyer forward.  E-mail/write city leaders and/or call.  Suggestions below:

  1. Please withdraw any plans for building a structure above Salem’s Farmers Market, permanently protect it as open space in its current location (such as a conservation easement) and consider ideas like those described here for enhancing/maximizing the Market/City Hall/Green for multipurpose civic use and to fulfill Salem’s Downtown Plan.
  2. Halt any plans to sell Salem’s historic c. 1928 “Body Shop” and reject the idea of upstairs apartments here. Partner with citizens to develop its mission. Place its management under the direction of a non-profit foundation to manage its use as a multi-purpose downtown Visitors Center/Community-centered venue and to promote the success of Salem’s downtown as called for in Salem’s Downtown Plan. As such, the Body Shop can serve as a destination anchor with community event/meeting spaces and some revenue-building destinations/shop spaces that fill in missing needs in our Downtown and our Community.
  3. Please allow a public discussion/feedback/input meeting on the above two properties and the by-right buildable up to 80 ft./8 floors “air space” provision recently added to Salem’s Zoning Code—this provision is too general with no restrictions (see zoning code, or Facebook page). Eight stories is a radical “by-right” change and deserves citizen input.

For information: Stella Reinhard, cell: 804.317.5615, 213 N Broad St, Salem; skreinhard@vcu.edu    Visit and share Facebook updated info page “Save Our Salem VA Farmers Market”

 

-Submitted by Cynthia Munley