SpringForward looks to spark interest from vendors in downtown market

Local organizers are working to identify potential vendors for a new public market in downtown Springfield set to open next year.

Preliminary construction is underway at the Myers Market building at 101 S. Fountain Ave., and several entities are working together to gather input about how the site can best be used to serve vendors and small businesses, said Michael Greitzer, executive director for SpringForward.

SpringForward is a nonprofit with a mission to target investment in downtown Springfield’s core to attract new businesses and visitors to the city.

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“Our vision for this is it will be a market but the space can be utilized for a variety of purposes,” Greitzer said of the project.

SpringForward is working closely with CoHatch, a co-working lifestyle company based in Worthington, to develop the project. Those entities announced earlier this year that the Springfield market site will undergo a roughly $1.75 million renovation. When complete, the site will include a year-round artisan's marketplace, shared kitchen and food hall, and event space for small local businesses and individuals.

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The groups are also working with consultants from the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks to host a public forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co. downtown. The goal of the forum is to raise awareness about the project and find possible tenants.

ACEnet is an economic development organization serving 32 counties in Southeast Ohio, and consultants from that group will be on hand at the public forum to share their experiences with similar projects in other communities. Staff from that agency couldn’t be reached for comment this week.

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Once it’s up and running, the market will hopefully draw more people downtown, Greitzer said, and serve as an incubator for small businesses. Along with seeing what kinds of businesses are interested in the space, another goal is to identify what kinds of services residents want but aren’t being met now. The forum and an earlier meeting might help identify local entrepreneurs who could fill those gaps, he said.

“It’s truly a business development strategy,” Greitzer said.

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The facility is expected to open in the spring or summer of next year. CoHatch is operating a handful of similar facilities in Central Ohio.

Separate from the downtown market, Greitzer said SpringForward also recently acquired property at 36 and 0 N. Center St. from Wellington Square LLC, the real estate arm of the Turner Foundation. The property was transferred for no fee, according to records from the Clark County Auditor’s Office.

Greitzer said the Center Street property is now a parking lot, but the lot is in a central location near a proposed downtown parking garage on the corner of Fountain Avenue and Columbia Street.

Greitzer said there are no plans to develop that lot, but SpringForward wanted to secure the property to make sure any long-term use fits in with the organization’s plans for downtown.

Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has reported on the Myers Market numerous times, including when it was purchased from the city and when the idea of restoring the building was announced earlier this year

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