First and foremost this is a posting to - hopefully - raise the issue across the region that Portland's Public Market is - for the most part - closed down.
I think its a shame but, rather than pin the blame for the market's demise on corporate greed (it was owned by a benificent not-for-profit), blame it on a flawed business model. It was a nice idea that just couldn't come to fruition in the era of super-duper-big-box groceries like Hannaford and Wild Oats. That there were successful entities in the market was largely an illusion born of below-market rents that couldn't sustain the costs of operating the building.
What the Portland Market was - almost from day one - was a tourist attraction. Not so much in the traditional sense, but in the "We have guests in from out of town, let's take them through the Public Market" kind of attraction. It was never really a place that the average person would go to shop for regular, every day grocery staples. Like it or not, I enjoy being able to buy meats, vegetables, detergent and paper products all in the same place. Was the produce at AJ Kennedy's (when it was there) better than the produce at Hannaford or Wild Oats? Not that I noticed. And I am Mr. Average Shopper.
So what comes next for the Public Market building? Fancy offices for an insurance company? Wouldn't it be nice if Whole Foods was able to move in - I get the feeling that an integrated grocery store MIGHT actually work in the space. But probably not. Maybe it will become a really cool nightclub, though it's hard to believe there is more money in a Portland nightclub than in the public market format. Or perhaps it will be purchased by someone like Dan Street and turned into a venue for several different restaurants.
Personally, I'd like to see it used to house the oft spoken of, seldom seen Gulf of Maine Aquarium.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas?
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