"The goal for food here is to bring a snapshot of the city," said Underbelly's Chris Shepherd, who is also serving as a consultant to MLB Capital Partners on the project. "This can be a place where you can see all of the city right here."
The project is nearing completion of several key new buildings and revamped open-air market spaces that will offer over 130,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and vendor space. Dozens of returning produce vendors will be able to set up shop alongside quick-service restaurant concepts leading up to a one-acre plaza. The next phase of the project will offer another 100,000 square feet of improved space.
The redevelopment is set on a site that has served as a farmers market for almost 80 years, and many of the previous tenants will be retained.
"It was really important to us to maintain the tenants that have been out here all these years," MLB Capital Partners' Todd Mason said.
Other improvements include fully featured bathrooms, parking for almost 600 cars, sidewalks and landscaping.
There will be a mix of traditional retail, with one building envisioned to house a coffee shop and yoga studio, but Mason said the entire project remains friendly to the market's wholesale heritage, with updated truck loading zones and allowing new tenants, such as the Angleton-based R-C Ranch Texas Craft Meats, to offer both a retail and wholesale presence.
The 17.6-acre market could see vendors begin operating in early 2021, Mason said, but they are keeping an eye on COVID-19 to evaluate opening timelines.