Louisville may soon join the list of cities that have a year-round indoor farmer’s market. The Logan Street Market, backed by Mike Safai, is tentatively scheduled to open next year in the Shelby Park neighborhood.
As Safai — who also owns Safai Coffee — envisions it, the Logan Street Market would be open year-round inside the former Axton Candy & Tobacco Co at the intersection of Logan and East Kentucky streets. Once brimming with tobacco and candy, the new plan is to fill the warehouse with spices, wines, meats and veggies.
The plans for the Logan Street Market would also eventually include a microbrewery, beer garden, and event space, and Safai hopes the venue will be a a magnet for other businesses in the neighborhood.
Mark Foxworth of Foxworth Architecture PLLC posted renderings of the market last week.
“There’s some underused and abandoned kind of warehouse buildings in the area,” Foxworth said. “What we’re really hoping with this project is they tend to be quite an economic engine in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.”
Safai said he was inspired by the sounds and smells of Findlay Market in Cincinnati and Pike Place Market in Seattle. Foxworth is from the Cleveland area and says the West Side Market in Cleveland was an anchor for revitalization for the surrounding neighborhood for the past 10 to 15 years.
Safai said he’d like to maintain the fabric of Shelby Park, including continuing to make it affordable for all Louisvillians. If the project comes to fruition, he said property values in the neighborhood will rise.
“But then if we can create jobs for those people that can work then they can afford to stay where they are,” Safai said. “Any neighborhood that needs upgrading and has a high level of poverty in there, the only way you can get it out of there is for businesses to move in there and give opportunities for those people to get a job.”
Besides vendors, Safai said other positions to staff the Logan Street Market include maintenance, janitorial and administration. Safai said the project would bring 150 jobs to the neighborhood.
He said he also wants to make sure residents of all income levels can purchase food from the market.
“We are going to push hard for people on the SNAP program to come over here and shop from here,” Safai said. “This way they can get healthy food.”
That’s something that’s needed in Shelby Park, where fresh foods are hard to come by.
At the monthly Shelby Park Neighborhood Association meeting, topics run the gamut — from community gardens to crime, to the planning of a community Thanksgiving dinner.
Shelby park resident Chip Rogalinski said he thinks Safai’s market project will benefit the neighborhood.
“The idea of bringing a permanent market, which most progressive cities in this country have — bringing that to Shelby Park is a vote of confidence not just for the city but for the idea of neighborhood development,” Rogalinski said.
He said it’s too soon to talk about gentrification and displacing residents when it comes to this project — especially when Shelby Park is dealing with issues such as vacant housing. For him, the Logan Street Market would provide a needed service for the neighborhood and he wants to make sure all Louisvillians can access it.
“This crazy corner of Louisville is engaged in making sure that the integrity and the history, and the architecture and the nature of the people living here is enhanced in a way that people can live together,” Rogalinski said.
Mike Safai hopes to finance the project with donation, banks, and sponsorship for equipment as well as his own money. Safai already owns the building and estimates the build out of the project would cost between $500,000 and $700,000.
Vendors would rent space in the market from anywhere from $300 to $1200 a month, which would include utilities, overhead and other expenses.