Public market may join marina

RIVIERA BEACH A year-round public market, where local farmers can sell their crops and homegrown craftsmen can show off their wares, is being planned along the city's waterfront.

Local leaders are working on a project that would put an 80,000-square-foot market, similar to Seattle's Pike Place Market, at the Riviera Beach Marina.

The market would be the first of its kind in the state, said consultant Aaron Zaretsky, who was hired to help Palm Beach County and Riviera Beach officials craft the plan.

Unlike area green markets, it would be open seven days a week all year. Chain stores would be prohibited from opening their doors in the market, setting it apart from other South Florida shopping areas.

"The emphasis is on showcasing what is unique in a particular region," Zaretsky said. "It is only mom and pop. No chain stores. No franchises."

Arthur Kirstein, coordinator of the county's agricultural economic development program, said many small farmers often struggle to find places to sell their perishable fruit and produce. The market would give them a reliable place to sell those goods.

"We have the green markets, but green markets are one day a week," Kirstein said. "This would be year-round."

But the project must clear several hurdles before it is built. The county plans to do a feasibility study to determine whether the market would be economically viable.

Meanwhile, planners must create a business plan, raise money to build the market and form a nonprofit group to run it.

It would be about four years before the market could open its doors, Zaretsky said.

Local leaders considered about 60 locations across the county for the market before settling on the Riviera Beach site.

Zaretsky said officials chose the site because it is centrally located and in an area that is ripe for redevelopment.

"It is an attractive setting," he said.