The owner of downtown’s City Market has a new tenant – himself.
Mike Hakan plans to open a new community event space in the rear of the century-old building across the street from Moore Square.
He said it’s one step in a vision for how the historic market building – which has not been used much for community events in recent years – will position itself as the area around Moore Square changes.
“As more of the community develops we plan to be an integral part of it,” he said.
The 5,900-square-foot space will host weddings, parties and meetings, along with events such as yoga classes or art markets under the name Historic Market Hall.
“We want people to have a reason to come down and shop and dine,” said Hakan, who bought City Market in 1995 with his late father. The name encompasses not just the historic hall but the surrounding block of restaurants and shops.
The rear space in the building was an event venue known as Cobblestone Hall until early this year. The tenants there moved into the front of the hall to open a different venue, called 214 Martin Street.
Hakan does not anticipate the two event spaces will overlap too much. While 214 Martin Street focuses on catered events, the new venue will have a wider range of uses, he said. The hall can accommodate 380 people for a seated event.
Prior to the opening of 214 Martin Street, the front of the market building had been empty for years after Greenshields Brewery and Pub left in 2004 after a fire and dispute about the upkeep of the property.
Hakan said he wants the new space to be bustling every day, not just for weekend events, as part of his larger vision for what City Market could become as Moore Square is redeveloped.
The city plans to invest millions in an overhaul of the square and its transit station, projects intended to spur further growth in the area. And the final draft of Raleigh’s downtown plan says City Market is a critical piece of that redevelopment.
“A rejuvenated City Market, one of Raleigh’s most unique and cherished areas, will become the destination anchor for the district that links the future to Raleigh’s unique past,” the plan said.
Bill King, planning and development manager at the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, said City Market is the anchor for Moore Square and represents the best chance for a retail center in downtown.
He thinks there are people in downtown looking for what Hakan says he will offer. And as the historic market building goes, so go the rest of the nearby businesses.
“What happens in that hall helps drive traffic to all of the restaurants and shops,” King said.