Local markets need support from community

Lansing City Market is no more, next attempt must be ‘use it or lose it’

Come September, there will be no Lansing City Market. It’s time to accept it.

The market, which had its city subsidy halved in May, can’t afford to stay open. And the city can’t afford to let prime real estate along the Grand River sit unused.

That means the community must come together to find the right solution for the property.

In June the City Council proposed repealing part of the ordinance that designated the land as permanent site of the Lansing City Market. This would allow the building to be sold, however the land remains a park. To sell park land, a ballot initiative must be approved by voters.

It’s time to let it go. The city does not have the resources to be property managers here and private development is a net positive if done correctly. Plus the site is a great spot to promote Lansing’s nightlife or simply attract more visitors downtown.

The city should work within limits to be as selective as possible when selling – especially to prevent more housing, which would only create a wall and further block the view of the river. This land must still belong to the people and remain accessible as a venue in whatever form it takes.

As for the future of the Lansing City Market, it well may be that Greater Lansing has enough farmers markets – around two dozen at last count.

Lansing has not had a true city market for years – failure to attract farmers led to it losing federal designation as a farmer’s market in 2016, longtime vendors have steadily disappeared and people did not show up in large enough numbers to sustain it.

Perhaps what downtown really needs is simply a grocery or general store. A place that combines public space with music, demonstrations and quality products that attract shoppers would be welcome, however this could be accomplished in myriad other ways.

Mayor Andy Schor said, “We’re going to have conversations about the future of the market, and we’ll entertain proposals that come our way. There’s been no decisions made, no contracts signed, nothing.”

Whatever the city decides, the plan hinges on residents and visitors alike. People must support it.

There have been enough failed attempts at having a Lansing City Market over the years. Next time, it must be made perfectly clear: It’s use it or lose it.