Dining With Denise Neil

District Marketplace is moving, but landlord has big plans for lot

District Marketplace, a community pop-up park, opened near First and Cleveland in May. It’s moving, but markets will continue in the original lot, too.
District Marketplace, a community pop-up park, opened near First and Cleveland in May. It’s moving, but markets will continue in the original lot, too. District Marketplace

District Marketplace is moving. But the spot it’s moving from will continue to operate as normal.

Earlier this week, District’s founder, Don Hutchins, and the owner of the property that the District Marketplace has been operating on since opening in April, Bill Jackson, decided to part ways.

Jackson will continue to work with his tenant Janelle King, who owns The Workroom at 150 N. Cleveland, to put on her second-Saturday markets as usual, and he’s dreaming about turning the next-door lot where District Marketplace has been operating into a colorful shipping container mall.

Meanwhile, Hutchins is moving District Marketplace somewhere else. He has an idea where he’ll go but doesn’t want to reveal the location until the deal is sealed, he said. He hopes to get the relocated market up and running within a couple of months.

Earlier this spring, Hutchins, who also owns the Mr Natural Soul Kitchen food truck, teamed with King and Jackson to open District Marketplace in the empty lot at First and Cleveland, just south of The Workroom. It was envisioned as a community pop-up park, and in addition to helping stage the Second Saturday markets, Hutchins constructed a makeshift stage for the park out of an old RV and recruited a couple of other food vendors to set up shop in the lot.

But both he and Jackson said they had different ideas about the direction the project should take.

“It didn’t work, so I kind of lost confidence that we’d be able to make it all come together,” Jackson said. “It just wasn’t the right team we had together to get it done.”

Jackson said he plans to go ahead with his vision, which is sleeker than what he saw developing at District Marketplace. King will continue to offer her Second Saturday markets through October, he said, and she’ll work with him on developing the lot, too. They’ll come up with a new name for it, he said.

“We are going to continue at a real slow pace right now,” Jackson said. “In the springtime, we’ll start doing some improvements there and start bringing that location up to what we thought it would be by summer.”

One idea Jackson is pursuing: Turning the lot into a shipping container mall. He was inspired by one he saw in Christchurch, New Zealand, while on vacation. The malls, which are popping up in several communities across the United States, stack colorful shipping containers in different arrangements then turn them into interconnected boutiques, restaurants and bars. Jackson envisions putting about 15 to 20 of the containers on the lot.

Hutchins said his vision has always been more basic and less refined. He wants to keep the margins lower for the vendors and doesn’t want to run a high-dollar market that only people with money can afford to patronize, he said.

His new District Marketplace will have food trucks, he said, and he hopes to continue working with the same artisan vendors he has been. He will schedule his markets at different times than The Workroom’s, he said.

He also wants to incorporate a farmer’s market into his plan.

Hutchins is taking the RV stage with him, and he has bands booked to play on it through October. He hopes to have his market back up within 60 days and said he’ll reveal the location as soon as he has a firm agreement.

“The more of these type of markets we have in Wichita, it’s just going to hep further grow the city,” he said.

Dappery Dodo, the late-night breakfast burrito spot that’s been operating out of Hutchins’ truck, will move with him. (During the transition, it will serve burritos behind 42 Below at 1203 E. Douglas on Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m to 3 a.m.)

Owners of Katz Smokehouse, who just opened a permanent barbecue food truck at the old District Marketplace in May, said they’re still trying to decide whether they’ll stay or go.

Stay tuned for updates on all the projects.