Red Deer City council is looking for entrepreneurs to come forward with their ideas about a year-round market and artisan space in the Riverlands area.
On Monday night, council directed administration to advance to the Request For Proposals stage which includes options of ownership and vision for the market. Submissions will then be brought back to council for approval.
Administration had recommended City council take a look at private ownership and development with City investment, but some councillors were not comfortable going that route. Their thinking was that if a developer/buyer could be found, it would ensure that the municipality would have a guiding interest in the project development and building use over the term of an agreement that would be developed to reflect the City investment.
“We would lose ownership and lose control if we moved forward like this,” said Councillor Chris Stephan.
Other councillors also wanted to ensure the land that the market is slated for in the Riverlands area stays public and City owned as it is currently.
“One the land is gone, it’s gone if we were to sell it,” said Councillor Tara Veer. “I would like to see us pursue the lands staying public but having an entrepreneurial model that can be used within the market.”
Stephan added the City can always choose to sell the lands, which are valued at $2 million, down the road.
The long term vision for this site is not only a year-round market and artisan space, but looks at the greater development potential for residential development as well as increased commercial opportunities including artist studios, retail outlets, office space and food vendors that would integrate into the adjacent public and private spaces connecting to the river.
This type of mixed-use urban neighbourhood development is typically led by the private sector.
The year-round market and artisan space is expected to set the tone for the Riverlands area and will draw the type of businesses, community connections and development that will create the vibrancy envisioned in the Greater Downtown Action plan.
Councillor Frank Wong voted against the motion to move to the Request For Proposals stage.