Imagining a market on the waterfront

Port, local stakeholders consider marketplace at Terminal 1

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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What does it take to turn a public space into a flourishing hub for vendors and a magnet for community gatherings, and how do you bring that kind of energy to the Port of Vancouver Terminal 1?

Those were some of the issues discussed Tuesday during meetings at the former Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay.

As part of its waterfront development project, which includes offices, apartments and a hotel, the port is considering morphing the old hotel into a community-based public market. The port is partnering with the Project for Public Spaces to study the idea. Meeting with local stakeholders to talk about it also is part of the process.

Port spokeswoman Abbi Russell said the port has talked about bringing a market to Terminal 1 for a long time, but its look and feel and fit into the community requires more investigation. Terminal 1 is just a few blocks south of Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver.

On Tuesday morning, employees from the Project for Public Spaces, port employees, a group of stakeholders from the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver Farmers Market and others met to discuss the hotel’s potential and what would be needed of the local community and small-scale entrepreneurs to make the place thrive.

Ideas included turning the hotel’s outside-facing rooms into spaces for vendors or small shops; making the open space and the building flexible for public gatherings; and activities closer to the river itself.

“It was a really good diverse group that generated a huge amount of ideas,” said Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman. “There wasn’t any one that jumped out and said, ‘Wow, here’s the magical answer.'”

To Jordan Boldt, executive director of the Vancouver Farmers Market, the discussion emphasized the diversity and work required to operate a thriving community market.

“I’m glad to be at the table and part of the process,” he said. “I’m excited to see what they come up with, but it definitely needs a lot of work. We’ll see where it goes.”

The Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization that helps communities create strong public spaces. The organization has worked in more than 3,000 communities in all 50 states, and in 43 countries.

The organization plans to finish the study in October. The results will be wrapped into the port’s Terminal 1 Concept Development Plan, which will go to the city of Vancouver in November.