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4 Ways to Fix the Market District
#1
4 Ways to Fix the Market District

I think the Market District in downtown Kitchener has a ton of potential.


If done the right way our “market” could be a smaller version of Ottawa’s Byward Market.



The Market District is an area bordered by King Street East, Frederick Street, Weber Street and Cedar Street.  According to the City of Kitchener’s Downtown Strategic Plan, the Market District is “the downtown’s gateway in the East.”

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If done the right way our “market” could be a smaller version of Ottawa’s Byward Market.

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Anchored by the Kitchener Market itself, the market district could have lots of restaurants, bars and shops and be something that draws people to the core. And drawing them in shouldn't be too hard since there will be an LRT stop at the corner of Charles and Cedar.


In order for the Market District to be a success, a number of changes need to take place.

#1.  Get an Anchor Tenant 

The biggest change that needs to take place has to do with the Market District’s anchor tenant, the Kitchener Market.  The Market currently does well on Saturdays, but outside of that, it leaves a lot to be desired.  For the Market District to be a success, the Kitchener Market has to be a success.  One thing that would help to fix the Market would be to address the tenants of the market.  This is a controversial issue for many people.  I love the diversity that the small food vendors in the upper market bring, but as of right now they truly help the Market.  A larger anchor restaurant would serve the Market’s interests much better.  One with a proven record of success through the Region, or elsewhere.  A patio could easily flow onto the front of the Market giving life to King Street, something that currently doesn't exit.  This would provide life and draw both people, and new business into the district. 

#2.  Better Hours of Operation

The Market’s hours of operation need to be addressed as well.  Currently the Market is open Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm & Saturday, 7am to 2pm (with the Farmers Market itself only open on Saturday).  Improved hours will come with increased popularity of the market on days it is open though, but would immediately come with an anchor restaurant.

#3.  Grow the Population

The next issue that needs to be addressed is population growth.  For the Market District to thrive, there needs to be population growth nearby.  Over time I think this will happen, but the City of Kitchener needs to be more aggressive with this.



Fusion Homes has already bought the block bordered by King, Cameron, Charles and Madison Streets.  Their development plans include a podium containing both commercial space and brownstone units.  Rising above this will be two condo towers totaling close to 300 units.  The people living in these units will likely be customers of the Kitchener Market and surrounding businesses.  


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For the Market District to thrive, there needs to be population growth nearby.



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#4.  Market Lane Overhaul

The final thing that should be addressed to help the Market District is the most exciting.  I think Market Lane has a boat load of potential.   If it were up to me, the little street between Scott and Eby would become a pedestrian only block.  Doing this and adding a number of small restaurants with patios would make this a very warm feeling part of the district.  There are already a number of houses facing a courtyard on market lane.  If you added patios on all of these, they would all fit into the potential makeover.


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If it were up to me, the little street between Scott and Eby would become a pedestrian only block.

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King Street is a mixed use corridor which means it’s prime for redevelopment. In the Market District buildings are held to lower heights.  Once you reach Cedar Street, buildings can become higher, which would ideally provide the population base to support the district.



Side streets flowing off of King Street should be a mix of new development housing the aforementioned bars, restaurants, shops and older homes being reused.


All of these areas are ripe for change.  Change that would go a long way to reshape the Market District into a lively, fun area.



What do you think?  Share your comments below.


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#2
Honestly I prefer Market Lane the way it is. It's the only street in the city that reflects the design of a 'woonerf', in that all uses are allowed, but vehicles give way to pedestrians. It would be a shame to shut down that single example, when it's something that should be replicated elsewhere. Personally, I want to see that design carried over onto Eby st, as it works de facto as a woonerf during Saturdays.
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#3
I can see what you mean.

Eby street should definitely be addressed. Lots of potential there too.
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#4
If you close Market Lane then New City Supermarket (which I would argue is the anchor tenant of the block) loses its parking access. Bibles for Missions might be in trouble as well.
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#5
didn't they re-zone the market building or something so a tech company could use it?
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#6
Eby should be made one way going west so cars can't turn left from King Street. There's so much pedestrian traffic that it just causes a backup and then cars are parked (or worse just idling) all along the curb so its effectively a one lane street on Saturdays already. Market Lane on Saturday mornings is usually filled right up with cars idling in wait for the elusive open spot in the New City lot.

I think the actual Market is unwelcoming and poorly designed. I'm not an architect but everything about the building seems so convoluted. I think the desolate plaza and empty buildings in front do drag down the whole neighbourhood... eating there on a weekday is like eating in a cave.
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#7
Rather than making Eby one way, I think I might just close it off on market days between King St and Market Lane.
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#8
I have vague memories of that happening when the new market first opened but I think people just ignored the signs anyway.
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#9
(10-16-2014, 09:38 AM)clasher Wrote: Eby should be made one way going west so cars can't turn left from King Street. There's so much pedestrian traffic that it just causes a backup and then cars are parked (or worse just idling) all along the curb so its effectively a one lane street on Saturdays already. Market Lane on Saturday mornings is usually filled right up with cars idling in wait for the elusive open spot in the New City lot.

I'd much rather see what Panamaniac said and just close it off, if at the least on Market days, and ideally all the time.

(10-16-2014, 09:38 AM)clasher Wrote: I think the actual Market is unwelcoming and poorly designed. I'm not an architect but everything about the building seems so convoluted. I think the desolate plaza and empty buildings in front do drag down the whole neighbourhood... eating there on a weekday is like eating in a cave.

I agree with you. And the plaza is VERY disconnected with the street with it being elevated. Not sure how it could have worked given the various grades though
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#10
The empty building really hurts the King St frontage of the Market and the various eateries, while OK in their offerings, are stuck with pretty uninviting eating areas.  I'd like to see the frontage from the Main Entrance toward Eby St turned into a couple of small restaurants that you could enter from the plaza itself.

Another thing I'd like to see would be a European-style "Market Cross" in the Piazza (which they should start calling a Platz)  to provide a sort of focal point.  Maybe big enough for people to sit on the steps of its base.

Edit:  Something else that I'd like to see would be some effort to direct the Saturday overflow traffic looking to park behind the New City Supermarket toward the Market Square parking garage.  To have a line of cars idling in the Lane and out onto Scott St waiting for a parking space is really not acceptable.
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#11
I think density is the biggest issue here. Not enough people live or work close enough to the market to sustain it. This won't be fixed any time soon. Having said that, the market is doing significantly better than the first year or two after it first opened in the new location.
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#12
(10-16-2014, 10:56 AM)panamaniac Wrote: Edit:  Something else that I'd like to see would be some effort to direct the Saturday overflow traffic looking to park behind the New City Supermarket toward the Market Square parking garage.  To have a line of cars idling in the Lane and out onto Scott St waiting for a parking space is really not acceptable.

The racquet club has been offering $2 parking on Duke right behind the market, which is more convenient than lining up to park.
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#13
I often park at the racquet club. About half of the time is full though.
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#14
(10-16-2014, 10:56 AM)panamaniac Wrote: Edit:  Something else that I'd like to see would be some effort to direct the Saturday overflow traffic looking to park behind the New City Supermarket toward the Market Square parking garage.  To have a line of cars idling in the Lane and out onto Scott St waiting for a parking space is really not acceptable.

That won't be productive. Those people waiting to park at New City are patrons of New City, and the point is to have their car close by for loading groceries in. The standard practice there is to get in the queue for the parking lot, your spouse gets out and starts shopping, and eventually you get a spot just in time for loading all the groceries into your car.

Honestly, one of the side benefits of that lineup is that no one is ever tempted to use Market Lane as a through street.
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#15
Some interesting ideas and feedback here.

I agree that the Kitchener Market District has tremendous potential as a successful people place.

An anchor tenant that's open all week certainly would help. A locally owned restaurant would definitely be helpful. An idea I've had is to have some kind of retail operation that sells local foods typical of the market all week long.

An increase in population may be helpful and is likely to happen but I don't believe it needs to be a precondition to rejuvenate the Market District. There's plenty of residents within walking distance already. The LRT stop which should be preceded by an iXpress stop will also help.

I've given this issue a lot of thought over the years and have declared it to be one of my 5 priority files for Ward 10 should I be elected on Monday. I'd like to take a placemaking approach to the area. Here are some of the ideas I've suggested be considered: http://www.jameshowe.ca/make-kitchener-m...days-week/
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