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Farmers market shops for new site

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A shopper leaves the BC Tree Fruits retail outlet on Clement Avenue in Kelowna on Wednesday afternoon. The building that houses the retail outlet is for sale and could be the future site of the Kelowna Farmers' Market.
When the Kelowna Farmers' Market makes its eventual move, the operation won't be going across the street after all.
Long-discussed talks for a relocation across Springfield Road have ended, and the hunt is on for a new home for the popular market.
"We couldn't reach an agreement with the developer of that site," market president Wolfe Wesle said Wednesday.
The market will run next spring and summer at its current location, the northwest corner of Springfield and Dilworth Drive. But the property is owned by Orchard Park mall, and the expectation is the market will operate elsewhere in 2015.
In 2011, plans surfaced for the market to be the featured anchor tenant at a new agricultural-themed commercial development at the southwest corner of Benvoulin and Springfield.
Drawings showed a 97,000-square-foot public market consisting of several large buildings resembling barns, farmhouses and stables. The pedestrian-friendly design evoked the Granville Island market in Vancouver, and it featured open spaces, plazas and paths.
The would-be developer of that property also has plans for a more traditional commercial project, with retail and professional premises, on the west side of Benvoulin. In July, city council granted a one-year extension on the approval process for that development.
One possible relocation site for the farmers market, Wesle says, is a property downtown on Clement Avenue. The 2.8-hectare site, which includes a large building formerly used as a packing house, has been offered for sale by BC Tree Fruits.
"The property is currently under contract for sale," said BC Tree Fruits chief operating officer Alan Tyabji. "It's a very complicated transaction, but we're hoping that by the end of the week there will be something official to announce regarding its sale."
Tyabji declined to identify the possible buyer or a selling price, and a call to the real estate agent who has been handling the transaction was not returned Wednesday.
But Wesle said his understanding was the buyer had plans for an an ambitious redevelopment of the Clement Avenue site that would incorporate a variety of commercial elements.
"We're having a dialogue right now with the developer about how the market might fit into the redevelopment," Wesle said. "It could be a good new location for us, but it's not a done deal yet."
The site is appealing, Wesle said, because it has good visibility, is located on a main road, and it could accommodate both outdoor and indoor market stalls.
At the peak of summer, the market has space at its current location for 165 stalls.
"We have to turn (potential vendors) away," Wesle said. "We could expand significantly if we had the room."

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