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krazeeboi

Charleston's City Market

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WIthin the past few weeks, there have been several stories in the P&C about City Market as it just recently celebrated its 200th anniversary. I just want to briefly summarize them to jumpstart a discussion here about the market.

This article briefs us on the history of the market. At one point, there were different markets downtown for different products, but city leaders decided to centralize the markets and the Centre Market was born on Aug. 1, 1807, which provided a central place for Charlestonians to buy food. Note that the market is not where slaves were sold, which is often incorrectly assumed (which I admit I was guilty of assuming myself).

Daily life in the market is detailed in this article. In the beginning, no one was allowed to sell food outside the market; stiff penalties were enacted for anyone who did. Vendors could not bring meats, roots, or vegetables into the market to sell more than once. Only scales and measures certified to be accurate by the market clerk could be used by vendors. From the early 19th to the early 20th century, many writers regarded the market as one of the nation's best.

City market has experienced many challenges in its day which has affected its viability as a place for commerce. In the 1830's, several small fires destroyed market buildings. In the years following the Civil War, urban growth to the north and west caused neighborhood "green grocers" to become serious competition for the market, and business began to wane. By the early part of the 1900's, the market had fallen into deplorable conditions. New management saw some improvements, but it still wasn't enough for successful competition against the neighborhood grocers.

This article details the changes the market underwent in the 20th century. What I found interesting was that there was a proposal in 1966 by a local businessman to convert the market into a shopping mall with a five-story department store next door. The move was opposed by Historic Charleston Foundation, which wanted to restore and rehabilitate the market.

And here's an article about a meeting that took place about the future of the market, as it will come under new management soon.

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WIthin the past few weeks, there have been several stories in the P&C about City Market as it just recently celebrated its 200th anniversary. I just want to briefly summarize them to jumpstart a discussion here about the market.

And here's an article about a meeting that took place about the future of the market, as it will come under new management soon.

I am very pleased to see that they are re-evaluating the Market now! I have always wanted this to happen, and I think it will bring some positive changes, while keeping many things the same. I agree with the woman quoted in the last article: the Market needs to be more authentic, selling fresh local produce, seafood, crafts (DEFinitely keeping the sweetgrass ladies--I know they will, of course), and other handmade crafts and getting rid of the cheap, often counterfeit, tacky souvenirs. The photo of "decorated starfish" --UGH-- goes to show you just how bad it has gotten. Recently, two vendors were arrested for selling counterfeit jewelry--knock-offs of Tiffany, Cartier, and other fine brands. (And they just got caught--this type of crime is a bad thing for the city's reputation, not to mention economy.) One way they could make it more authentic and less tacky is to require all vendors submit samples of their wares to a judged panel that would determine its appropriateness and authenticity, and therefore, if their lease will be renewed.

Another thing I'd like to see is the restoration of the first shed (attached to the recently restored Market Hall) that was "modernized" back in the 70s into a "mall". That building should be converted back to open-air tables like the rest of the sheds are. I think small cafes and quick-order restaurants could be accommodated very nicely, as well. Just think of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, Pike's Place in Seattle, Fulton Fish Market in NYC, or the countless European examples as to what I'm talking about. Being able to buy fresh seafood just feet from the waters they came from would be a HUGE draw alone. I would visit it just for the energy and ambiance of such a place, and I don't even like seafood!

There are abundant souvenir and tacky t-shirt shops across North and South Market Streets from the Market. The spaces under the historic Market sheds should be devoted to giving the visitors AND the locals a sense of place by selling Charleston's best fare, both edible and collectible.

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The City is looking for a new operator the the Market. Their key idea, and the reason that I'm posting this, is that they want to make the Market a place for locals like it used to be, and also one for tourists. I have no idea how they will pull it off, but its a great idea.

Article

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The City is looking for a new operator the the Market. Their key idea, and the reason that I'm posting this, is that they want to make the Market a place for locals like it used to be, and also one for tourists. I have no idea how they will pull it off, but its a great idea.

Article

Wow, this is a great opportunity for the Market to be more authentic in its wares--woo hoo! :yahoo: Just what I was hoping for . . . can't wait to see what transpires.

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The City Market is going to get some upgrades and an addition. The new operator of the Market, City Market Preservation Trust LLC, will take over management of the historic property Oct. 1.

Upgrades will include fresh paint, steam cleaning and a general "spruce up" of the market for about $100,000. "More extensive improvements to the facility and the street will come later." This will include improvements to the drainage system in the area. If you've ever been there, you know that it floods every time someone spills a drink.

My favorite quote:

"A singular priority for the manager is to create an environment that will attract local residents as a preferred venue for leisure activities."

This is a key priority for the market. Other cities with markets like this have shops for both tourists and locals. Making downtown a place for more than tourists is important.

They will also add a new section of the market between East Bay and Concord St, which is almost to the waterfront. If you look at it on a map, its the last block between North and South Market St that is currently parking.

Article

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I would like to see an ongoing Farmer's Market at City Market. The farmer's market in Marion Square is great, but it is only on Saturday mornings. We need a place to go buy local products all the time. I think this would be popular not only with residents but tourists as well, as they are in foreign cities.

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I agree. A farmers market would be a perfect fit for the City Market. I wouldn't be surprised if thats on the list of things to do.

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The City Market is going to get some upgrades and an addition. The new operator of the Market, City Market Preservation Trust LLC, will take over management of the historic property Oct. 1.

Upgrades will include fresh paint, steam cleaning and a general "spruce up" of the market for about $100,000. "More extensive improvements to the facility and the street will come later." This will include improvements to the drainage system in the area. If you've ever been there, you know that it floods every time someone spills a drink.

My favorite quote:

"A singular priority for the manager is to create an environment that will attract local residents as a preferred venue for leisure activities."

This is a key priority for the market. Other cities with markets like this have shops for both tourists and locals. Making downtown a place for more than tourists is important.

They will also add a new section of the market between East Bay and Concord St, which is almost to the waterfront. If you look at it on a map, its the last block between North and South Market St that is currently parking.

Article

I wonder how they are going to address pedestrians crossing East Bay Street to get to the new addition? The traffic on E. Bay is constant, and the current situation of having an intersection at both South AND North Market Streets with the current throngs of pedestrians thrown in the mix is just a disaster. I was just there today shaking my head at the mass confusion trying to drive through that intersection. Has anyone been to this maddening obstacle course? If you REALLY want to test your driving skills and patience, trying to turn north onto E. Bay off of South Market, then immediately turn west on North Market to go the opposite direction (sort of a "U" turn, but legal), all along dodging cars on 3 sides of you AND tons of pedestrians . . well, you get the picture. They are turning this nightmare intersection into a monstrosity with this idea. I just don't see it happening.

I would like to see an ongoing Farmer's Market at City Market. The farmer's market in Marion Square is great, but it is only on Saturday mornings. We need a place to go buy local products all the time. I think this would be popular not only with residents but tourists as well, as they are in foreign cities.

Yes, this would be something I've always dreamed of, too. Going back to its roots would be great: fresh seafood, as well--smells and all! And I don't even like fish--but it's worth the fishiness to have authenticity.

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I don't know how they are going to address that intersection. Fortunately for Charleston, it is one of the only cities in the Carolinas where the Pedestrian rules. I'm sure they will come up with something. If you remove lefts to and from both Market Streets you remove a lot of confusion. The other thing to keep in mind is that when drivers feel confused or confined, they slow down. It makes it a lot safer for pedestrians.

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Spartan, you're right about Chas. being pedestrian-friendly, and how that's a good thing.

It is because of this fact that I am especially concerned with this scenario of a new market building to the east of East Bay Street. You know how shoppers kind of saunter and wander about half-distracted in a sort of "shopper's stupor" when going between the current market buildings? They're looking at the merchandise in the next building, the horses and carriages, the buildings, the other shoppers . . . I'm one of them . . . you just consider the street a sort of extension of the market floor, and any occasional vehicle is moving so slowly it can almost be patted aside like an ox or donkey. Shoppers don't need to worry with traffic lights or fast-moving vehicles--because they don't have to.

But if all of a sudden they have to change their alertness from "What busy street?" to "High", it would be jarring at best, or potentially tragic. I shudder to think of an excited child, texting teenager, or mesmerized shopper failing to notice that they've just wandered into the busy intersection at the wrong moment. It only takes a split second.

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I understand your concern there. It probably will be an issue. I'm just confident that the planners in Charleston will come up with a good solution. Other cities have managed large pedestrian traffic across much wider streets.

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More renovations are happening at the City Market.

The City is going to pay for $5 million in improvements:

  • repair roof
  • install vents
  • remove gum spots
  • add bathrooms
  • new entrances
  • vendor signage
  • painted ceilings
  • painted exterior
  • interior lights
  • awnings/umbrellas for sweetgrass basket weavers

The coolest addition will be the installation of replica countertops between each brick archwaythat will allow people to approach vendors from the street itself. This will make the Market feel much more open, though it will probably end up impacting the parking.

All of this work is supposed to start after the holidays and be completed by next summer.

They also mentioned the extension of the Market down one additional block. It sounds like that is still in the long term plan...

Post & Courier

You can see images that show the counter tops here. Looks like they will be made of wood, if they are going to be true replicas.

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These sound like great improvements for the market! I think these will make the experience even better. The counters to the street will give a much more vivacious vibe

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The first half of renovations were recently completed, and here are some photos. It's lookin' good. :shades:

The second part of the market project involves renovations to the enclosed Market Hall. That work begins in October after the height of the tourist season.

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I was in Charleston in the first part of May. I meant to update here... It really does look a lot better.

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In the following months east bay street in going to be totally repaved along with the 52 spur coming into downtown......charleston county resurfacing projects. Also middle street from fort moultrie to 703 on sullivans island is going to be repaved with some major underground pipe and catch basin improvements.

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The Charleston City Market's Great Hall, renovated, enclosed and air-conditioned, heralds in several new and returning businesses to the downtown shopping district. The former serpentine walkway through the dimly lit Great Hall was torn out when the building was gutted during the second phase of the $5.5 million transformation of the 38,600-square-foot, four-block-long City Market.

In its place lies a central aisle that runs through the building from Meeting to Church streets, lining up with the aisles in the three renovated open-air sheds that stretch to East Bay Street. A skylight runs the length of the Great Hall, offering sunlight to stream down on vendors and shoppers.

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That's great news, but what the hell SEC&G? When were you planning to tell the city or the newspaper or something?

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I visited the Market 3 weeks ago and SCE&G crews were working on what appeared to be moving utilities underground.

I walked through the newly renovated Great Hall building and it is a very nice makeover.

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