Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — City officials discussed renovating the former railroad depot, which currently houses Cock of the Walk and the Old South Trading Post, to include the Natchez Farmers Market including a public demonstration kitchen.

Farmers market coming to depot?

Published 12:11am Friday, January 18, 2013

NATCHEZ — Preliminary plans to relocate the Natchez Farmers Market to the bluff in conjunction with renovating the former railroad depot include constructing a new building for the farmers market and turning the depot into a public product development facility with a demonstration kitchen.

The project’s planning committee, which is comprised of representatives from the City of Natchez, Adams County, the extension programs for Alcorn State and Mississippi State, Historic Natchez Foundation, Tulane University, Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and Natchez Inc., met Thursday to discuss details of the project.

Alcorn’s extension program is planning to relocate the Natchez Farmers Market, which operates on St. Catherine Street, to the bluff beside the depot.

The city is planning to seek funding, particularly Transportation Alternatives Program funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, to renovate the depot.

The depot currently houses the Cock of the Walk restaurant and the Old South Trading Post. The city has said the businesses will have to relocate because the building is not eligible for grant monies if it houses for-profit businesses.

Trading Post owner Jonathan Wood announced that his business is relocating to a space that will double the size of the store. He declined to name the location.

At the meeting Thursday, the planning committee discussed the logistics of constructing a new farmers market and renovating the depot.

The depot’s space would be used for a demonstration kitchen that could be used for educational or commercial purposes. The depot would also house public restrooms, meeting and possible office space.

The depot will also serve as a visitor reception center for the Natchez Trails Project, which will be integrated into the redevelopment of the area.

The demonstration kitchen could be rented for product development purposes, said Ruth Nichols, Alcorn’s assistant vice president for educational and community partnerships.

That could include, she said, someone wanting to rent the kitchen to can jellies or jams to sell.

A covered pavilion will also provide space for music performances and other community gatherings, such as food festivals in conjunction with growing seasons.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith, who serves on the planning committee, said she is particularly excited that local artists and artisans will be able to demonstrate and sell their work outside the depot.

“This is really better than what I originally thought we were going to do,” she said.

Alcorn has hired architect William Mills of Mills and Mills Architects as the architect to design the new farmers market.

Mills presented preliminary drawings to the committee at the meeting. The drawings also included demonstration gardens and green space that is planned for the area.

Brown presented preliminary plans for the project to representatives from Tulane when he attended the university’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design last November.

Grover Mouton and Nick Jenisch of Tulane attended the meeting via teleconference.

Monton and Genise have reviewed plans for the project and will continue to provide input to the committee.

The committee agreed that the goals of the farmers market and depot project include agricultural education, a cultural center, community gathering place and a venue for local events.

The idea, Mayor Butch Brown said, is to merge the separate projects and set of needs into one initiative that will boost the local economy and attract locals and tourists to the bluff.

“I believe it’s a win-win for everyone and a golden opportunity to marry all these institutions together,” Brown said.

Alcorn’s School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Science Dean Barry Bequette said he believes the project will benefit both the community and Alcorn.

“The idea is that this will boost the local economy and also help (Alcorn) as well,” Bequette said.

The overall cost of the project, Brown said, is $2-3 million.

Bequette said the estimated cost for Alcorn’s portion of the project is $1.2 million. He said the university has $500,000 committed to the project and is hoping to obtain more funding in lieu of scaling down the plans for the farmers market.

  • Anonymous

    WAIT A MINUTE!!! I thought whomever was going to be in there HAD TO BE NON-PROFIT!!! I thought that was the main reason the current occupants were having to vacate. Now it says people can “make & sell” jellies, artists can “paint & sell” paintings.. what’s NON-PROFIT about that?

  • J_RUSS

    Typical Natchez, MS!!!! Natchez is going to run out a loyal business(Cock of the Walk) that has genrated revenue for the city for 20+ years. The business(Cock of the Walk) has paid $240,000+ in rent monies that the City of Natchez has never put back into the building for upkeep. Now they want to tear it down and build a new building for the Farmers Market (supposely non-profit) but gonna rent out a kitchen and receive profit. From my understanding the city refuses to help this loyal business(Cock of the Walk) relocate that has been operating in the City of Natchez for 20+. In my prospective if the City of Natchez is as honorable and kind as it protrays itself to be, starting NOW since they are going to tear down the current building(its obvious the city isn’t gonna upkeep the building, no need for the rent monies) and build a new building with FREE GRANT MONEY the City of Natchez should waive all rent monies starting from 1/1/13 til the city makes this loyal business(Cock of the Walk) of 20+ years move. I think its is a fair thing for the city to do so this business(Cock of the Walk) can have little of pocket expense money for when they are forced to move against their wishes since the GREAT City of Natchez is not willing to help with the relocation of this loyal business(Cock of the Walk) of 20+ years.

  • Anonymous

    So they are going to spend $2-3 Million, kick out a landmark restaurant and a successful, well run business to renovate the space for public restrooms and a place to sell jams, jellies and junk? This is supposed to boost the local economy?

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    This makes about as much sense as a box of hammers!! Yes, this is the Natchez way that the Natchez mafia always wanting control as that of the histericals people making Natchez the most business unfriendly town in Ms.!! Lets live for the present and get away from the past and get some great paying jobs and to get a better quality of life for the Miss-Lou folks huh’??!! Taxpayers are sick of this and grants of spending more and more tax monies!! Its always for a certain click of folks to benefit instead of all its citizens as the bluff itself was but in law in the 1800′s belonging to all its citizens-not politicians and special groups and it citizens should rebell about this issue and if the Ms. AG is brought into this fight I bet the citizens will win out!!!

  • Anonymous

    You know the mayor and the MS AG are pretty close, so I wouldn’t look for any help there.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like people can set up shop and Pay No Sales Taxes, therefore claiming Non Profit, this is gonna be a bad deal I can smell it.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Yes, the AG Hood is a gentleman and scholar and will direct the law as its writen to whom ever envolved!!

  • Anonymous

    hahahahahahaha

  • Anonymous

    Looks like Alcorn just took that deal over. This should be interesting.

  • Anonymous

    A GREAT MOVE.