Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Market places

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When I wrote way back in September last year about the search for a suitable location for a weekend crafts market, I mentioned several possible indoor locations and said that I'd "write soon" with some suggested outdoor sites. But I never got around to it, and this post isn't going to help either, since I've just thought of a couple of other indoor spaces that might work.

Thanks to DeepRed for pointing out that Mr Chan's in Wakefield St has closed down, apparently for good this time. It didn't last long in this location, since it moved in in August last year after the old A-mart building was emptied out. It's a pity to see it go, but it creates an opportunity. This site adjoins another empty one-storey shed around the corner at 10 Tory St, and the two of them add up to a space that is large, continuous, vacant and presumably relatively cheap. Until such time as the obvious development potential of this site is realised, it would make a great space for a crafts market.

Vacant retail spaces on Tory and Wakefield Streets - possible market location?However, I think there's an even better use for this site: as a replacement for the food market that will soon have to make way for the Watermark apartments. It's certainly a large enough space, being almost twice the size of the existing food court, and it's in a great location halfway between Courtenay Place and Waitangi Park. I've suggested elsewhere that Wellington could do with "an Asian food market ... open at night and licensed ... somewhere to fill up on steamed pork buns, laksa, takoyaki balls, wontons and/or ramen while on a kuidaore spree." Given its recent history as Mr Chan's, this could be an appropriate location.

atrium in the Exchange Building between Allen and Blair streetsWhich still leaves us without a craft market. But there's another space that I think could be even better: the atrium in the Exchange Building between Allen and Blair streets. This is a semi-public space that runs between and behind all the restaurants and shops, and while in the past it was used for product launches, wine tastings and the like, it's several years since I last recall it being used. It's a slightly awkward shape, but might just be big enough, and if the two upmarket craft galleries (Kura and Ora) can be persuaded to join in, they could count as part of the market space. There's also a bar and serving area at one end, and perhaps some of the adjoining restaurants could set up food stalls beside their back doors.

I think this space could meet all the criteria: it's a sheltered space (with good natural light as well), near public transport and parking, and with good foot traffic. As it's not currently used, it should be available and hopefully affordable. It would complement the existing activities around Courtenay Place by bringing some more daytime visitors, and with the right promotion and signage it could easily get a high profile.


At 5:43 pm, March 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be kill to be able to get decent fruit & veg within a short walk of Meat on Tory.

And no, the organic shop does not count.

At 3:58 pm, March 19, 2007, Blogger R Singers said...

I've just got back from spending the weekend in Dunedin. they have a Farmers Market in the railway station car park every Saturday morning. If you're there on a Saturday I highly recommend going. Look for the bloke selling the Bacon Buttes. Pay your $3.50 and wait the ten minutes (there's a big queue). Actually I recommend buying at least two.

At 4:20 pm, March 19, 2007, Blogger stephen said...

Did you see Sue has something to say about that...

At 4:32 pm, March 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! I was in Dunedin a couple of weeks ago and the Farmers Market is indeed amazing. The combination of high quality fruit and veg, meat, fish, eggs, coffee, bread, cakes, even organic beer - it's the stuff dreams are made of!


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