Eastern Market looks ahead to the future with initiatives that aim to foster equitable development

Eastern Market on Tuesday unveiled several initiatives to foster equitable development while ensuring the preservation of the district's authenticity, including the establishment of development protocols, a food entrepreneur accelerator, and a name change.


Effective July 1, Eastern Market's board of directors approved changing the organization's name to Eastern Market Partnership, an umbrella name to better describe the collective work of the organization and the nonprofit real estate development subsidiary, Eastern Market Development Corporation, Eastern Market President Dan Carmody said in a statement.


EMP plans to utilize two different protocols, one for mixed-use commercial projects and the other for food production, processing, and distribution projects. The protocols outline 13-16 criteria developers will need to follow if they want to seek support from the partnership and to ensure the projects align with Eastern Market's mission of being an inclusive, welcoming food-centric hub that champions small businesses and food entrepreneurs.


“These protocols will help maintain rent affordability and how projects promote the core values of the Market,” Carmody said. “Eastern Market Partnership welcomes developers to join us in the journey to develop an enlarged public market district that is capable of serving Detroit for the next 128 years as the current market district has served the Detroit for the past 128 years.”


The announcement comes amid rapid development happening in the historic district, including the shuttering of Farmers Restaurant in March and the announcement of Russell Street Deli closing up shop in September. The owners of Farmers Restaurant closed after the owners retired and the building sold to Sanford Nelson, who is also the landlord of the building where Russell Street Deli is currently located.


A key part of the organization's development initiatives to spur business growth is the 100-acre Food Innovation Zone, which would expand the market's footprint with the addition of space for food processing to retain existing companies and recruit new ones.

“This is about keeping thousands of jobs in the city by developing largely vacant land while improving the quality of life for existing residents and businesses who have survived decades of disinvestment,” Carmody said.


Earlier this year, the organization partnered with Eastern Market giants Wolverine Packing Co, E.W. Grobbel, and Germack, as well as Greenhorn Training Solutions to launch Food Industry Jobs. This sector provides the highest number of entry-level, living-wage jobs and makes up more than 20 percent of Michigan’s workforce, according to the market.


“Creating or retraining thousands of food jobs is important to offer employment opportunities to Detroit residents," Carmody said, adding that 15 Detroiters will be connected to jobs in the district within the next few months.


Eastern Market also wants to help emerging food entrepreneurs get to the next level with the construction of the Metro Accelerator on Riopelle and Adelaide Streets. To occupy the 15,000-square-foot space, the partnership is negotiating with five food companies that started out in its Detroit Kitchen Connect incubator or sell their products at Eastern Market to participate in the accelerator.


Lease rates will range between $7 to $11 per square foot and estimated occupancy in August. Major funders for the $3 million project are JP Morgan Chase, WK Kellogg Foundation and the New Economy Initiative.

Read more articles by Dorothy Hernandez.

Dorothy Hernandez is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food at the intersection of culture and business. She has contributed to NPR, Midwest Living magazine, Eater, and a variety of other publications. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @dorothy_lynn_h.