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Troxler: Raleigh farmers market won't be sold to developers

Posted December 12, 2019 11:26 a.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2019 7:04 p.m. EST

— The State Farmers Market in Raleigh will continue to grow along with the surrounding area, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Thursday, but there are no plans to move the market and sell the state property to private developers.

Troxler said he needed to clear the air after signs popping up near the market suggested the site was ticketed to become high-end condominium buildings.

"This is simply not true," a visibly agitated Troxler said during a news conference. "We love our farmers market and are glad our customers do too."

Condos might one day be built on a piece of state land between the market and North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus known as Spring Hill, he said, but that wouldn't affect the State Farmers Market.

That Spring Hill site was also offered to Apple and Amazon last year when the two tech giants were scouting areas nationwide for new campuses.

"This area is a hot area for real estate development," Troxler acknowledged.

That trendiness could mean other changes at the State Farmers Market.

A master plan for the market envisions more retail space where produce wholesalers now operate. That plan recently sparked an online protest petition.

Troxler said any such changes wouldn't be made for decades because of existing leases with wholesalers and because the market doesn't have the money needed for an overhaul.

"We don't intend to break leases," he said.

But as leases come up for renewal, rising rents – the state is required by law to charge market rates – will likely force some wholesalers to move out, he said. That would leave a hole in the market physically and in its revenue stream that the state would need to fill, he said.

Retail, including butchers and cheese shops, would help link the farmers market to the planned Dorothea Dix Park nearby, Troxler said.

"We are not going to diminish this market. We're going to improve it," he said.

"The rest of the market’s going to stay. They’re even building new buildings for other people. But not for us. They’re evicting us," said Patrick Ford, whose family has run a wholesale operation at the farmers market for generations.

Despite Troxler's assurances, Ford said he's unsure about the future of the business. He wants the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to take steps to ensure wholesalers will have a place at the market in the future.

"Our lease only has a couple years left, and these plans are right here for everyone to see," he said. "There’s not been anybody saying it’s not happening. They’re just telling us not to worry. But we’re a 73-year-old company. We have to plan down the road."

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