The Boise Farmers Market is getting a new home this year, with free parking for customers.
The market, an alternative to the bigger Capital City Public Market, will relocate to the parking lot of the old Kmart store on Americana Boulevard north of River Street. That store building later was used by Hewlett-Packard Co. and, for more than a decade until last year, by St. Luke’s Health System for offices.
The market opens for its 2019 regular season — its sixth — on Saturday, April 6. Its participants pride themselves on local, in-season fruits and vegetables.
Parking was a challenge at the nonprofit market’s former site on the Republic parking lot at 10th and Grove streets. Parking is “the No. 1 issue” customers have raised in annual surveys, said Tamara Cameron, the interim manager since the retirement last year of Manager Karen Ellis.
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Space had also become a problem, Cameron told the Statesman in a phone interview. At the new site, the market will be able to offer cooking classes for adults for the first time this year, she said.
The new location is outside Downtown’s heart. Cameron doesn’t think that will hurt. “It’s just five blocks away” from the old site, she said. “It’s a little bit further walk. It’s along the river, and it’s easy to get to from the [I-184] Connector. I think once people find us, they’re going to love the new location.”
The new site is where a new development is planned by River Shore Development LLC, which bought the old Kmart site last year. River Shore has not yet revealed what it hopes to build. It will take advantage of a new urban-renewal district the Boise City Council established in the area.
“This lot gives us the opportunity to be the first thing in the neighborhood,” Cameron said.
The market is talking to River Shore about a possible permanent home, though nothing has been set, she said. Organizers have been hoping to secure a year-round site for an indoor-outdoor market.
“They don’t know us,” she said. “Like any new relationship, we’re taking it slow. This is a chance for them to find out how awesome we are, and for us to find out how awesome they are.”
The market will lease space on the lot for now. Cameron declined to say how long the lease lasts.
The market has 80 to 90 vendors at the height of its summer season, and it grossed $1.5 million in sales last year, she said.
River Shore is being run by Boise developer Derick O’Neill, a former city planning and development director, in partnership with members of the Rebholtz family, which owns Agri Beef Co. Agri Beef’s headquarters is on the Boise River across Shoreline Drive from the old Kmart.