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A Market is Born. Now Where are the Banks?

This past Saturday I attended an inspiring event that could potentially lead to one of the city’s most valuable culinary initiatives… ever. Developer/architect Karl Frizlen thought up the concept after visiting a similar market in Portland Oregon. When he took a closer look at the Horsefeathers building on Connecticut, he realized that there was great potential in converting it into a mixed use organic producers market (see concept). That’s when registered dietitian Niki Klem stepped in to help formulate the concept. The first step was to garner support for the initiative by attracting like-minded foodies to the table. It wasn’t long before a laundry list of interested parties began to throw their hats into the ring. It was then decided that in order to gain community support, the organizers would have to design a concept event that would showcase the building, the producers and the vast number of support groups. 

When I arrived to the Horsefeathers building around 7pm on Saturday I found a few food trucks parked outside with throngs of people milling about. That was a good sign. Upon entering the building I was met with the sound of live music, and a packed house. Along the perimeter of the room, food stations were set up and people were sampling different delicacies, including beer, cupcakes, meats, pasta dishes, etc. Acoustic-style bands played in the far corner and guests sat at communal tables eating and discussing the environs. The support for the event was incredible, and the passion for the concept was palpable. If a random person had walked into the scene, without knowing that it was a promotional event, he or she would have thought that a market had been born. 
When I spoke to Karl Frizlen he was thrilled that there was such a massive support group. Then he told me that the market concept would be dead in the water if he could not get any of the banks to lend the project money. Here was a developer with a proven track record, with concept support from D’Youville College, and solid commitments from people who wanted to live in the residential loft-style apartments, as well as commitments from the food producers to occupy the first floor market… and the banks weren’t lending. Even the food trucks have expressed interest in signing up in order to utilize the market as a base station (follow WNY Food Truck Association on Facebook). What else does one need in order to pull a project off? Especially a project that would be so good for the community and would put Buffalo on the map as a true organic hub?  “A project that is very similar to the Horsefeathers building is the ECO Trust building in Portland, OR,” Karl told me. “I visited a couple years ago. There is residential and market demand for the Horsefeathers building – it makes financial sense. The event went great, and every single vendor sold out.  A lot of interest was generated for the market.” 
If you have any ideas, please share them because this is a concept that needs to get off the ground. As one visitor to the market put it, “If this was a strip mall the banks would be all over it… but they won’t put money towards an idea that is foreign to them.”
It’s time to give the people what they want.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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