Aromas awaken your taste buds when you first walk into the Broad Street Market. No doubt the food vendors inside Harrisburg's historic market have great eats to offer, but the 1860's charm is viewed by many as outdated.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse held a news conference Friday to roll out a new task force in charge of revitalizing the market.
“[The market] is the central hub of the wheel,” Papenfuse said. “It's the thing that makes everything else go in Midtown.”
Broad Street Market Corporation chair Jonathan Bowser will anchor a team comprised of Jackie Parker, the city's newly appointed community and economic development director; Bill Fontana, executive director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center; Josh Kessler, a Broad Street Market vendor; Sylvia Rigal, a peer professional at Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministry; Deborah Robinson, HR specialist and administrator for ABEL Personnel; and Shawn Westhafer, president of Friends of Midtown.
Business has declined and the market was shut down twice in recent years. Health code violations were cited in February 2010 and August 2012.
“Those shutdowns are in the past,” Papenfuse said. “The market is very much open now.”
Leon Glick runs Two Brothers BBQ in the eastern side of the market. He and many of the 30-plus vendors rely on business to provide for themselves and their families.
Like many, they will wait and see what the task force can do, but he likes anything that will shed a positive light on the market.
“We're just thrilled of what we're seeing with management,” he said. “Looks like there's some hope out there. We're gonna make this place boom.”
Papenfuse acknowledged there was not a clear management plan between the city and the market. He said that because of the oversight, there was perpetual mismanagement of the market in previous administrations.
The market is co-owned by The Broad Street Market Corporation and Historic Harrisburg. Papenfuse said the task force will strengthen relationships between government and the private sector.
Fontana said the market is eligible for Elm Street Project and Community Development Block Grant funding. Papenfuse said the money would go toward repairs and an aggressive marketing campaign.
For now, half the battle is changing the attitude about the market and the surrounding neighborhood.
“The excitement is building and growing,” Papenfuse said. “If we can get the additional resources to help make this market into something great, I say the sky is the limit.”