New City Market slated for spring opening in Walkerville

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Windsor Star/Derek Spalding

A massive new public market in Walkerville could be slinging fresh produce and a host of other unique local foods as early as this spring, say the proud owners who visited the site on Friday.

Well-known Windsor businessman Ashok Sood and his son Anuj are the two minds behind the City Market project, which is starting to take shape at its location on Walker Road near Richmond Street.

The new building spans 55,000 square feet and is expected to house several restaurants and about 40 to 50 merchants selling everything from farm-fresh tomatoes to specialty items like sausages, poultry and even milk. The sweeping single-storey complex is expected to spur more development in East Windsor, particularly in the once thriving Ford City district.

“We’re starting something special, so we’re hoping other people will follow,” Ashok said. “There’s a bit of a vacant hole heading east of Walker Road in terms of new development. This will be the first (in this area) in years.”

City Market will definitely compete with the nearby Market Square, located just blocks away on Ottawa Street, but Ashok sees room for both to operate successfully.

“A lot of (merchants) from there have contacted us and they want to come to us,” he said, “but we have enough interest from other producers even without them.”

Not only can both markets succeed, but the area could possibly gain a reputation as a central hub for local food, according to the head of Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation. CEO Sandra Pupatello says the area could evolve into a new destination spot for the region.

“It brings people in who want to go to one, but then they realize there’s another in the area. If you’re bringing in people from areas like Detroit, now they want to come to both,” she said. “This could very well become the food court, the place you go for really cool food. It could gain that reputation.”

Anuj has been the lead on the project, which is expected to open as early as March 1. Without getting into specifics, he says City Market will offer inexpensive rental fees for the merchants as an additional incentive for setting up shop.

“We want to make it affordable, so people have the opportunity to do well,” he said.

They are also looking to attract a few restaurants, particularly a New York style deli that serves up hearty sandwiches using all local ingredients.

Ashok got the idea for the market from his love of local food.

“Anybody who grows anything in the area, we want them to be under one roof, so it’s easier to sell to the public,” he said. “I figure there are more people like me, so I think this will work.”

Their goal is to get 100,000 people through the market every month, which might be ambitious, but the early interests expressed by local producers has been a huge motivator.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people who want to work with us,” Ashok said.

The building has large bay doors along the front so products can be displayed and sold outside when the weather is good. The slanted roof is higher on the side facing Walker Road, which was a specific design to hide the 120 solar panels that stretch in all directions.

The owners are also reserving a spot for local charities that want to have a public presence for any of their fundraisers or awareness campaigns.

“These are all just ideas, but I think we have something really special, here,” Ashok said.