Months from now, when winter is a distant memory, the Rochester Public Market hopes to launch a long-promised renovation of one of the city's top summer spots.
Some aspects of the improvements still need to be worked out, such as new locations for four stand-alone restaurants at the market. And plans have changed slightly since drawings were shared and hearings were held in 2012.
But the first phase of the $6.5 million project aimed at upgrading one of the city's treasures would begin this fall with construction of a new open shed, said market manager Jim Farr.
Farr said he hopes the project will go out to bid in July.
The new shed now will be built at the north end of a pavement strip that was occupied by the original market shed in 1905. This shed would be temporarily enclosed so it could house the current occupants of the market's "Winter Shed" — vendors of meat, fish, honey, coffee, pasta, produce, baking mixes and other products.
Originally this new shed was planned to be at the south end of that strip, but Farr noted that the north end has more room. Winter Shed tenants would remain in those temporary quarters for a year to 18 months, Farr said, while a new Winter Shed is built. The permanent enclosed shed would be built in 2015, due to open by the spring of 2016.
Some vendors, though, are worried that being in the temporary quarters will hurt their business. The current Winter Shed has 60 stalls (some vendors have two or three stalls) but a schematic drawing the market prepared shows the new shed with just 48 stalls.
The original plan had also included adding retractable walls to an existing shed closest to Railroad Street and using that as the temporary housing for indoor vendors. The current plan leaves that shed unchanged, except for relocating some handicapped parking spots to one side of it.
The Winter Shed, also known as Shed B, has running water, but no drains and doesn't meet current health codes. Based on customer and vendor comments, Farr said, the plan has also changed to retain four restaurants in separate buildings rather than folding them into the new Winter Shed.
"All the spaces are going to be about 30 percent larger than they are now," Farr said about the restaurants.
During renovations, the restaurants would operate out of food trucks or moveable container buildings, he said, but he said it hasn't been decided where the restaurants will land at the end of the renovations.
The market's master plan calls for two more stages of redevelopment, but additional money from private sources would have to be secured for those, Farr said. One would be remaking the central part of the market, where the office and restrooms now stand. The plan calls for adding a teaching kitchen and gathering space in that area.
Another segment would be a new commercial building at the south end of the market, near Union Street, where more restaurants might be enticed to locate after the city-owned part of the market is renovated.
"I'm excited," said Irving Feldman, owner of Coastal Fresh Fish and Clams, but he added that others are worried about rent hikes expected to come with better facilities. Feldman, though, is looking forward to having refrigeration on site and prep space. "I could do a lot more ... put in a raw bar, I'd do cooked fish and have some real nice cases and do a more professional job."
Barrita and Jeff Shanks, owners of Seven Bridges Farm, are looking forward to improvements, too, but feel like they need more details.
"We would take more space if we could," Barrita Shanks said. They're concerned because they use their refrigerated truck for storage when they're selling in the Winter Shed, but the plans call for keeping vendor trucks away from the stalls.
"I"m not afraid to pay more" in rent, Jeff Shanks said, but he needs to know more about space limits now; calves he's raising now will be ready for butchering when the stall is in the temporary space. "If they make something smaller for me, it will kill my cash flow and put me out of business," he said.
Investing in the market is good, said John Bolton, who sells fresh greens in the Winter Shed that he grows year-round on his farm in Hilton. But he, too, wants to know more details in order to plan for the coming changes.
"A lot of us have made a lot of significant investments to make this happen, so we've got to plan," Bolton said. Acknowledging that changes — even beneficial ones — will be hard for some people to make, Bolton said he hopes the changes won't be so dramatic that they hurt the market's atmosphere.
"The customers love coming to the market because of the atmosphere," Bolton said, adding that they value improvements in parking and restrooms over new buildings.
Farr said the current plans call for doubling the number of restroom stalls, but adding restrooms on the back of the new Winter Shed. The current restrooms in the center market are expected to remain available until the center of the market is updated at an undetermined date. DCARTER@DemocratandChronicle.com
Changing features of public market renovation plan
• Occupants of the Winter Shed, also known as Shed B, will move to new shed with temporary enclosures that will be built on the site of the original 1905 Market shed.
• The new Shed D will be at the north end of the market rather than the south end.• While buildings for Cherry's, Scott's, Juan and Maria's Empanada Stop and Zimmerman's are demolished and rebuilt, the four restaurants will operate out of food trucks or giant storage containers. After renovations are complete, they'll continue to be in individual buildings.