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Revisiting the Market District
#1
<h1>Revisiting the Market District</h1>
Earlier last month I got called out on Twitter. 

Hard. 

Four years ago I wrote a post called Four Ways to Fix the Market District. Last month, I made the point in a tweet that the Market District was broken. My theory was simple: if something needs fixed it's clearly broken. Numerous people took offence to my choice of words. One person in particular however challenged me to look at the Market District again and so that's what I did. 

Over the last few weeks I've made it a point to spend time in around the Market District and take in all that it has to offer. 

And it has things to offer. It has a lot of potential. 

But I still think it needs improved upon. 

In 2014 when I wrote the first article, the city’s new Market was ten years old. The original premise was that the Market in Downtown Kitchener would serve as Downtown’s eastern gateway. It would not only house the weekend farmer’s market, but also a series of vendors and storefronts and create a destination that people would flock to. But here’s the problem At the time 10 years later, and now four years after that, other than the Saturday market, these things haven’t happened. 

Now I think it's important that we define what truly constitutes The Market District. When the city first came out with the idea of the Market District, it was bordered by King Street East, Frederick Street, Weber Street and Cedar Street. Many people were upset at my comments thinking I was targeting downtown Kitchener as a whole. Those of you who know me, know I'm a huge advocate for downtown Kitchener as a whole. But the fact remains, The Market District leaves something to be desired. 

   

So I set out to do some exploring in hopes that in fact I was wrong. That a lot had changed in four years. But some things hadn’t. 

There are some really great shops and restaurants in the Market District. Yeti Cafe is fantastic! Shout out to Nova Era, my favourite bakery in town. But unfortunately as good as Nova Era or Yeti Cafe is, they’re not good enough to be a destination for the entire district. They’re not enough to prop it up on their shoulders. 

When I wrote the original post, I suggested four things would dramatically improve the Market District and help inject it with life. They are: 
  1. Get an Anchor Tenant 
  2. Better Hours of Operation 
  3. Grow the population 
  4. Overhaul Market Lane 

Four years later and all four of these things would still improve things dramatically. Four years later, the Market District still has a long way to go to be a day in and day out destination in Downtown Kitchener. 

Back then I argued that an anchor tenant would go a long way to helping the district be an everyday destination. I understand it already is on market days, but that’s not an everyday occurrence, that’s once a week. The front plaza feels very disconnected from the street because it’s elevated. But that’s not changing. An anchor tenant to draw people in off the streets will help mitigate that.  I don't think that you have to get an anchor tenant in the Market District, but I think it goes a long way.  The one thing I have changed my tune on is that an anchor tenant would make it an everyday destination.  There are very few tenants that have that kind of draw.  I'm not sure I can think of one that already exists on a day in and day out level in Kitchener. 

The Kitchener Market NEEDS better hours.  The hours of operation are still what they were four years ago. Open until 3 on four of five weekdays plus the Saturday market. Far too often when you walk by the Market, it’s a ghost town. In order for it to be a lively area, there needs to be activity around the clock. The shops around it help to balance that out, but with the Market being such a focal point, it needs to take the lead. 

The Kitchener Market NEEDS better hours.

In order to have that activity, there needs to be people. And ideally, there needs to be people living near by. Stores and restaurants and spaces will draw people to the Market District. But just as much as those, people draw in people. There needs to be more high density residential in the Market District. Is there residential around the Market District? Sure. Is there enough to really make it a lively neighbourhood? No. So much of the downtown Kitchener focus is in the West end near King and Victoria. And that’s fine, they deserve the hype. But the East end does too. The new Drewlo rental towers will help a ton, but another project or two would bring the critical mass of people that needs to be in place to really sustain the district. Imagine The One Hundred or Charlie West at Cedar and King. Or the Cortes on King at Duke and Cedar. That would make a massive change.   All of those residents would not only support existing businesses, but would encourage others to take up shop in Downtown Kitchener's East end.

I will say this, having there be a Kitchener Market LRT stop helps a lot.  Knowing that people are an easy rapid transit ride from being right in the Market District is a big deal.  But it's not the same as having people live there.  When people can leave their homes, apartments or wherever it is that they live, and walk around the neighbourhood, that is the best case scenario.

   

Finally, a Market Lane overhaul. My original thought was that Market Lane would make for a great pedestrian only, artisan village type of corridor. I still think that would be cool. Is it necessary? No. But things like this help to create a destination. Look at the space in the picture below. The potential for that to be a people place is great. Highlight these great spaces. 

   

But maybe on market days, some streets become pedestrian only?  That would encourage people to get out and wander around before or after they've done their market shopping.

So the four things I wrote about are still valid four years later. 

When a place has as much potential as the Market District, I just hate to see it not reach it.

When I made a point of spending time in the Market District I went not just to experience it, but to look for those four things, and to see how they might impact things. And frankly, change is still needed.  I struggle to not think that this area, while having potential is still a weak spot in Downtown Kitchener. 

So maybe it was my word choice that was wrong. Maybe it doesn’t need “fixed”, maybe it’s not “broken”, but honestly, I find it hard not to make the argument that it doesn’t need improved upon. 

When a place has as much potential as the Market District, I just hate to see it not reach it.
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Messages In This Thread
Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 10-30-2018, 09:24 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 10-30-2018, 10:09 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Skita - 10-30-2018, 07:53 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 10-30-2018, 10:08 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by clasher - 10-30-2018, 11:38 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by tomh009 - 10-30-2018, 12:17 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by kps - 10-30-2018, 12:46 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 10-30-2018, 12:16 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by KevinL - 10-30-2018, 02:30 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by tomh009 - 10-30-2018, 12:00 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 10-30-2018, 12:17 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Skita - 10-30-2018, 07:55 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-05-2018, 09:16 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by tomh009 - 11-05-2018, 11:39 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-05-2018, 11:44 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by tomh009 - 11-05-2018, 02:53 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by tomh009 - 11-08-2018, 01:15 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by tomh009 - 11-08-2018, 01:54 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-08-2018, 02:19 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-08-2018, 02:18 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-08-2018, 11:27 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by ijmorlan - 11-08-2018, 01:28 PM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-08-2018, 11:27 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by Spokes - 11-15-2018, 09:25 AM
RE: Revisiting the Market District - by nms - 11-21-2018, 05:06 PM

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