Dallas Farmers Market

Dallas, Texas

In 1941 the site at the corner of South Pearl and Taylor Street in the southeast quadrant of Downtown Dallas was officially sanctioned as the site for a municipally owned and operated farmers market for the sale of farm fresh produce. Three open-air sheds were constructed, at which the farmers’ trucks backed into concrete docks, and customer’s vehicles drove through the sheds, parked and shopped for groceries. Although for fifty years the market was vibrant and busy, it was characterized by exhaust fumes and a poor quality of light, and was hardly a pedestrian friendly experience. Gradually the market declined and the farmers were replaced by produce wholesalers, selling poor quality merchandise that the grocery stores rejected. The City of Dallas was not equipped to manage their way out of the decline, and made the decision to put the real estate and management contract out to bid through an RFP process. Spectrum Properties successfully won the contracts to purchase the land and buildings from the City and operate the Dallas Farmers Market, based on a master plan vision, which dramatically changed the nature of the market, turning it into a pedestrian-focused mixed use village with food as the anchor.

The original “Shed 1” was re-envisioned as a pedestrian-only open air facility, the farmers trucks were banished, most of the docks removed and the vendors asked to create table displays among which the pedestrians could wander. The 27,000 SF climate-controlled “Shed 2” was gutted and carefully re-tenanted to place “anchor” restaurants in the four corners and create a classic “food hall” with dozens of smaller operations and common dining table areas both inside and outside. GFF established finish out and signage standards which allowed a vibrant diversity and energy within a discipline of materials and color.

The most important move was to demolish the underutilized Sheds 3 and 4, and reclaim the land on which they were placed with a four-story mixed use building containing 244 apartment units, 25,000 SF of street-level retail and restaurant space, and a parking structure for 550 cars. The disciplined grid of red brick, overlaid by a steel framework for balconies has a character which somehow feels crisp and contemporary on one hand, but has fooled some into thinking it was an older building that had been repurposed. Getting the cars off the street and into the garage allows for the ability to make both Pearl and Taylor fully pedestrian-only streets on busy market days and for festivals. The glazed overhead garage doors on the new retail allows for a spill out of retail and restaurant activity onto the sidewalks.