Glens Falls: After frustration, farmers market owner warms to South Street “BEAR Market” plan

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GLENS FALLS – Officials in Glens Falls and with the city’s Local Development Corporation have been promoting a draft “BEAR Market” business plan to local business leaders. The plan outlines how city-owned or -leased property on Elm and South streets downtown could be used when the major redevelopment at that intersection is completed.

The Business Expo and Regional Market Plan looks at how the Market Square building at 51 South St., now under construction, and the “incubator” building on an adjacent property at 36 Elm Street will be used after the buildings in that area are redeveloped as part of the Downtown Revitalization Plan.

The Elm Street property, a short distance from the intersection with South Street, will be purchased by the Bonacio companies (they are developing all of the property in DRI project under their Spring City Development arm) and the ground floor will be leased back to the Greater Glens Falls Local Development Corporation, which will operate the building. The LDC will hire a general manager or CEO to run the operations in the short term.

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“The idea is for an independent entity to be formed that would take over running the ‘BEAR Market’,” according to Paul Ghenoiu, the public relations officer for Glens Falls. It will operate much like the not-for-profit group, The Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, Ghenoiu wrote in an email. That group manages the Cool Insuring Arena.

The main floor of the incubator building will have three uses: A Makers Market, the Community Kitchen, and the Wayfinding Journey. The upper floors will be apartments for rent.

Tax Credits were a “green light”

Mayor Bill Collins said that tax credits awarded to Spring City Development to construct workforce housing on one corner of Elm and South was key to the whole project. The entire $10 million Downtown Redevelopment Initiative project includes two new buildings and the renovation of three others. None of the projects alone were economically viable without the tax credits, Collins said.

“That made all of this a green light,” he added.

Farmers Market warms to the plan

The biggest surprise may be that the leader of the Glens Falls Farmers Market is much happier about the changes coming than he was last fall.

Tom Wells, the president of the market, has said that his concerns about the market moving from the South Street Pavilion to the new Market Square building “fell on deaf ears” in City Hall last fall, but he now says his relationship with the city is not a negotiation but “a partnership.”

“I’m hearing things that I like,” he said of the plans, adding. “I am happy to help, and I want it to succeed.”







Parking and Farmers Market Pavilion, May 2024

The parking lot at the South Street Pavilion is the current location of the Glens Falls Farmers Market in the summer months. The plan for South Street moves the farmers market to the Market Square Building, under construction on the other side of the buildings in the background. The white building in the background is the “incubator” building.




The contention earlier came when the Farmers Market saw problems with parking, inventory management and what they believed was a smaller overall footprint in the new space at the planned Market Square pavilion, the building now under construction.

Wells, the farmers and some people in the public were concerned that the farmers market had been promised a new building that would be a full-time, year-round building — and that they would be the prime tenants.

These promises went back to the beginning of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a $10 million state grant awarded to the city when former Mayor Ed Barthlomew was the director of economic development.

When the new building was planned years later, Mayor Bill Collins and Director of Economic Development Jeff Flagg said on numerous occasions that the city could not build a building that would sit dormant, except for about three hours per week on Saturdays.

The building they planned would have other activities, and what angered the Farmers Market people, beyond the parking and other issues, was that the city said the farmers would not always be the premier tenant, and if the city booked an event that took place on a Saturday, the farmers would have to use a different space.







Incubator building with alleyways, May 2024.

Alleyways along Elm Street at each end of the “incubator” building, 36 Elm St. shown here, lead to the Market Square Pavilion on South Street.




Recently, Wells said progress has been made on a number of concerns that his group had, including the Saturday use.

For instance, the Market Square Building has very little parking near it, and that has been a concern for the vendors who need to drop off and pick up their stock. They also worry that people will not come to shop.

This might be fixed if the smaller vendors can access the Market Square building on South Street through a short alleyway off Elm Street. Carts could be made available for them, Wells said.

He added that larger vendors would use the small number of parking spaces in front of the building on South Street.

Customer access has been another issue, with lack of parking again the factor.

Wells said the city is working with his group, looking to establish different parking patterns on Saturday morning and even considering bus routes to run nearby.







Current alley between the Hot Shots building, at left, and the incubator building, May 2024

The current alley between the Hot Shots building, at left, and the incubator building on Elm Street in Glens Falls. Construction on the new Market Square Building can be seen in the background.




Lastly, he said that the city is talking about how to make space, maybe by shutting down streets to allow for a bazaar-style event, on days when the new building is used for another event.

His one caveat is that the vendors get a vote on hours, days and locations, so any plans would have to pass muster with them.

If they build it but no one comes to shop, that has obvious downsides, he said, adding, “The customers are going to weigh in too.”

The BEAR Market Plan

The Business Expo and Regional Market Plan that Mayor Bill Collins told The Post-Star is still in draft form, highlights the uses of the incubator building.

The incubator building has been emptied for about three decades, and prior to that was an old lingerie and clothing manufacturer, the mayor said. It was called the incubator because it was expected to be a place where the city would incubate new business and help young businesses grow.

“It’s about growing and promoting businesses in the Glens Falls region,” he said.

The Makers Market will be a “flexible vendor space” for retail sales highlighting the “lower Adirondacks Region’s culinary and industrious spirit,” the draft plan says. Businesses, especially Glens Falls businesses, will be able to use the space to show and sell their goods using shelving for free at first and at a negotiated price if they wish to continue the use.

The Greater Glens Falls Local Development Corp. will take a percentage of sales, which will be handled by a check out system at a counter in the market.

The mayor said the target market for this space would be businesses looking to reach a wider or different audience than the one that already comes to their brick-and-mortar location.

“We are hoping that restaurants that are currently in Glens Falls that might be selling stuff retail, like Cooper’s Cave, might want to sell their soda, their ice cream and their beer in that place,” in the Makers Market, the Mayor said as a possible example.

The Community Kitchen, about 650 square feet, will have a local kitchen that businesses can rent by the hour and that the community will use to hold instructive demonstrations and to help local businesses with packaging, barcoding and labeling their fresh products.

He said that some restaurants might want to rent the space to package and label products they currently do not sell on the retail level, but maybe they would if they could test it someplace as a “proof of concept.”

In a nod to the changing plans with the Farmers Market, Collins said that he could see the farmers producing and packaging food in the community kitchen. He said some farmers are using commercial kitchens as far away as Argyle, and this might be a nice option.

“They are going to be able to rent the place on weeknights…at a reduced rate so that they can grow their businesses,” he said.

The local development corporation could even help with grant applications to get the best ideas moving.

The Wayfinding Journey will use kiosk and wall space in the incubator building to help shoppers find “products, craft producers, small businesses and attractions in the area,” the plan says.

Collins told The Post-Star that physical addresses and online shopping portals for vendors at the farmers and makers markets will be featured on the signage and phone apps in the various wayfinding services.

G. Stephen Thurston is the managing editor of The Post-Star. He oversees the news room. Contact: 518-742-3225, sthurston@poststar.com.

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