The City of Portland may soon see its very own Pike Place inspired indoor-outdoor marketplace along the Willamette River and Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The James Beard Public Market, named for a prominent Portland restaurateur and innovator in gourmet American food, is intended to promote quality products from within the Northwest “foodshed” while educating visitors about sustainable agricultural practices, healthy eating, sourcing food and entrepreneurial opportunities. The plan is another step forward in the continuing innovation of Portland’s urban planning strategies.
Melvin Mark Development Company and SERA Architects have proposed a project envisioning the Morrison Bridge’s west end as a gateway into the downtown retail core marked with a 17-story commercial tower, 110 permanent vendors, 40 day tables, a full-time restaurant, teaching kitchen and flexible community space. A site that has sat vacant for decades, connections to the existing Portland Saturday Market and recent improvements near the west side of the Burnside Bridge are crucial in fostering a collective ‘market district’ along the waterfront.
Tenants could include butchers, fishmongers, wine merchants, natural foods, delis, bakers, ethnic markets, and coffee, among other goods. More permanent establishments could include a microbrewery, a bookstore and full-time restaurants, with many local businesses already expressing great interest.
The market will not only serve as the gateway into Portland’s downtown retail core, but also as a tourist destination for the out-of-state and international visitors that flock to the city throughout the year. Public projects of this sort have proven successful across the United States and supporters of the James Beard Public Market are aware of similar endeavors such as Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market and flourishing year-round examples in Milwaukee, San Francisco and Vancouver BC.
The vision to reconnect Portland to its history of public markets has been a goal of the marketplace’s supporters and city leaders for over a decade since the launch of the project. The marketplace will help create a common ground connecting urban and rural residents in the state, build a showplace for local agricultural products and generate recognition of Oregon as a “brand name” source of fine foods and wine.
Photo courtesy of Pamela Rentz, Flickr Creative Commons