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Victoria downtown indoor public market to set up shop in the Hudson

Jul 17 2012

Victoria could have a new public market downtown by next spring.

The Victoria Downtown Public Market Society, which promotes local food producers, has reached an agreement with the developer of the Hudson to establish a permanent public market on the building's ground floor, society chairman Philippe Lucas said Monday.

"It will be a great space. Of course, this is an amazing historic building with great emotional ties to the people of Victoria and we're very excited about this opportunity," said the former Victoria city councillor.

He said the society has been working for three years on the project. "To finally get to the point where we can actually announce [that] soon Victoria is going to have a downtown public market is pretty gratifying."

The agreement to be signed today will give the society six months to attract vendors and establish the terms of a five-year management deal for the space, Lucas said.

Developer Townline has been trying for months to attract a grocery chain to the space that runs through the centre of the ground floor, from Douglas Street to the back of the building.

But it's reportedly been a tough sell.

Townline vice-president and spokesman Bob Pearce could not be reached for comment.

The market society wants to use 18,000 square feet, with about 60 per cent of that housing eight to 12 permanent kiosks selling everything from local cheeses and wines to meat and produce. The balance of the space would be for about 15 temporary vendors that could be brought in on a rotating basis, Lucas said.

He expects the market will be a combination of established food-centred businesses and new businesses looking for a "foothold in what is basically a joint social enterprise."

Lucas expects to recruit 60 per cent of the vendors over the next three months.

The society will continue with its regular markets in Market Square until the new space is open, he said.

"We'll continue our winter market throughout the winter, but I think it's fair to say that we're not going to be managing a summer market there next year, since we'll have this new space to look after," Lucas said, adding the goal of the temporary markets was to build the capacity of the vendors and organization.

"Now we're going to be focusing on this permanent market."

The ground floor of the Hudson, on Douglas Street between Herald and Fisgard, is 40,000 square feet. Design House Salon, Hudson Yoga, 2% Jazz Coffee, Smoken Bones Cookshack and the Royal Bank have already opened in the space.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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