Carrie Rengers

District Marketplace community park to open downtown (VIDEO)

A new pop-up park of sorts is opening downtown with a focus on food and art.

“We are opening a community park,” food truck vendor Donnie Hutchins says of District Marketplace.

The park will be just south of the Workroom, which is near the southeast corner of First and Cleveland.

There will be permanent food trucks, art installations and vendors to sell local products and art.

“We’re looking for local arts of any kind,” Hutchins says.

Workroom owner Janelle King is one of the people helping facilitate and brainstorm on the project, which she calls a niche destination.

“I already do so many events outside,” she says of “activating the space.”

“For me, it’s kind of become my form of marketing.”

King says she finds that once people come to her store, they will come back.

“I just gotta get them in that first time.”

She says District Marketplace is about more than that, though.

“It’s kind of building that neighborhood.”

The park will kick off on April 9 with 50 art vendors, 13 food trucks and seven bands.

Some of those trucks and artists will remain after the opening day, and others will rotate in and out.

Hutchins says part of the idea is to attract people downtown and keep them there with local arts, food and movies on a screen at the lot.

“Kind of offer people a place to come and hang out that’s not the typical bar element,” he says.

The park, which looks like a parking lot currently, will be built from refurbished and recycled items.

It will be part of Avenue Art Days and Final Friday, with local bands playing Final Friday wrap-up parties.

Hutchins says the park is a collaboration with many people, including almost 20 artists who will contribute their time to create sculptures for the park “that will be part of the park forever.”

Rental prices will vary for food trucks and vendors and the various events that will be held at the park.

“We are trying to keep the costs down as low as possible,” Hutchins says. “We’re kicking in for electricity on our end.”

He says that “it’s a good way for a wonderful artist to get a start.”

Hutchins says there will always be food at the park.

His Mr Natural Soul Kitchen, which relies on ingredients solely from local farmers, will be one of the permanent food trucks at the park.

“Our menu changes every week … depending on what comes in.”

King says District Marketplace is about building culture and community.

“This is a fantastic way to help build our little corner of it.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers