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Macy's Considered as Option for Year-Round Capital City Market

"It's a natural place to look at."

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Something old and something new have entered the conversation swirling around the possibility of a year-round Capital City Public Market.

"Something old" is the former location of Macy's at 10th and Idaho streets, which has sat empty since its March 2010 closure. Citydesk has learned that a local developer is about to close on a deal with Macy's to take over the 118,000-square-foot building. Additionally, the developer has had conversations with CCPM representatives about the possibility of at least part of the space hosting a year-round indoor component for the downtown market.

In fact, Todd Bunderson, interim executive director of the Capital City Development Corporation, informed the CCDC board on Sept. 12 that his staff had "been in consultation with Boise City about including the [Macy's] property as a candidate site in the permanent farmers market assessment currently under way."

"It's a natural place to look at," Cece Gassner, Boise's assistant for economic development, told Citydesk. "[The developer] said, 'Sure, it could be great.' But that's just one of five or six different options."

Gassner said the main thing CCPM officials want citizens to know is that by no means would they abandon an outdoor market.

"It's a total hit the way it is now. People love it," she said.

The "something new" element that has entered the discussion concerns the newly created Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which has just been granted a nonprofit status.

ICSA, which has a mission of supporting local-food systems, has joined the Capital City Public Market to turn to an outside consultant, studying the feasibility of an all-seasons market (BW, Food News,"Exploring the Possibility of a Year Round Farmers Market, Aug. 3, 2011). The city of Boise is funding the study with $24,500 from its Economic Development Fund.

"These are monies that the city receives from leasing its rail properties to Union Pacific," said Gassner. "It's not from the general fund. It's not taxpayer money."

Ted Spitzer, president of Market Ventures from Portland, Maine, is spearheading the feasibility survey. Spitzer has already spent some time in Boise, meeting with stakeholders, market vendors and customers.

"This is what he does," said Gassner. "He knows what works and what doesn't. He literally wrote the book on how to run a public market. If you talk to a lot of people around the country, they say, 'Here's our guide,' and it's usually a book by Spitzer."

Spitzer's initial report is expected to be completed in approximately three weeks but don't expect a year-round market anytime soon.

"Oh gosh, I would be shocked if it did," said Gassner, who insisted that the city wouldn't be picking up the tab for such a considerable effort.

"We wanted to help out to get the process started," she said. "But now is the time for [ICSA and the Capital City Public Market] to seize hold of this. They should be the entities to move this forward."

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