Faced with higher-than-expected costs, the Morrisville Town Council agreed Tuesday to scale back plans for the Food Hub, the future site of the Western Wake Farmers Market.
Town leaders had hoped the project’s cost would be covered by a $210,000 grant from the John Rex Endowment, which funds healthy-living projects in the Triangle. But it became clear the Food Hub would cost much more.
Town staff now say the projected cost is between $450,000 and $500,000.
The Food Hub will be built next to the town’s administrative complex along Town Hall Drive and will feature space for vendor booths around the perimeter of an open green space. A community garden is planned at the site.
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The project is one of several planned investments in the area, which Morrisville wants to develop into a walkable downtown with a mix of apartments, shops and public amenities such as the Food Hub and a new library.
Cost-cutting measures presented at Tuesday’s council meeting would eliminate a driveway around the site, reduce the number of paved vendor parking spaces and delay the installation of electricity infrastructure. Town staff estimate the changes could bring the cost down to about $265,000.
Morrisville hopes for a second phase of construction, if the money is available.
The farmers market has raised about $16,500 so far and hopes to raise more to help cover any remaining shortfalls.
The council and Western Wake Farmers Market President Jim Pellegrini agreed to a cheaper project in part because of time pressures. Summer and early fall are typically the busiest times of the year for farmers markets, and they wanted to have something ready for vendors by then.
The market currently operates out of the parking lot behind Morrisville’s public safety buildings, but that space would likely become too crowded this summer when more vendors start showing up.
Pelligrini said the initial lack of vendor parking and electricity will likely cause some grumbling, but he was pleased to see the project moving forward.
“The customers followed us to Morrisville, and everyone likes the location of the new market,” Pelligrini said. “We’re in a really good position now. Not having to wake up every Saturday morning and feeling our existence is threatened is a good thing. I’d just hope that someday Phase 2 actually does get done.”
The John Rex Endowment grant, which was awarded in 2014, must be used by the end of 2017. Morrisville Town Manager Martha Paige said the endowment’s staff agreed to have the town proceed with the new proposal.
“We explained we were looking at doing something like this, and they were OK with that,” Paige said. “But if we drag our feet for too long, they will eventually want their money back.”
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan