Wait’s over: Market opens today at Electric Works
Union Street Market invites public in when doors open on Nov. 22
A drive just south of downtown on Broadway shows things are definitely changing at the former General Electric campus.
After numerous stops and goes prior to getting all the necessary funding, Electric Works is moving right along, looking to supply office, innovation, education, health care, retail, entertainment, and community uses at the 700,000-square-foot campus.
Fort Wayne Community Schools has been using the Amp Lab this year, but the first major step for the public comes Tuesday, Nov. 22, when Union Street Market opens its doors.
“The feedback and the support has been amazing,” Union Street Market Director Ermin Husidic said. “The folks living in the surrounding area, now that the fences have come down, they’re showing up everywhere. They’re asking questions and trying to come into the building to check it out. When we open the doors, it’s going to be a lot of people trying to see what all the excitement has been about.”
For here or to go?
Modeled after similar markets in Seattle, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, and Philadelphia, Union Street Market will offer a bit of everything, be it to take home or enjoy on-site.
On one side of the market, you’ll be able to get fresh-made food from the likes of Johnny Ox Neo Neapolitan Pizza and Brooks BBQ & Chicken, drinks from Conjure Coffee, Kekionga Craft Company, and Lunar Infusions Kombucha, and dessert from Bragg-A-Lot Sweets & Drinks and Local Apple Cart.
On the other side, there will be plenty of fresh items to choose from with some seating there or on the mezzanine, overlooking the market.
“A deli, The Kitchen & Co. out of Columbia City, has charcuterie boards with wine and cheese, and we’ll have dessert shop, fresh produce soon, and then another bakery, a butcher shop, fresh seafood,” Husidic said. “They’ll also prepare food, so you’ll be able to get a smash burger, a seafood boil over there.”
Husidic, a South Side High School graduate, says about 80 percent of the facility has been filled with businesses, all already located in northeast Indiana.
“We have a few people not ready to announce quite yet,” he teased.
All we need is patience
As the first business to open at Electric Works, Husidic has put a lot of work into the space, which has come with plenty of logistic challenges.
“I started in June, and it feels like yesterday,” he said. “The amount of work it takes to open up one business (is a lot), and we’re opening quite a few in here. There’s a lot of coordination, obviously, coordinating a lot of vendors coming in here while you’re still under construction.
“Doing everything the proper way, and to the way the merchants would like to see for the space, and designing it to fit their needs, as well as the needs of the visitors that come in here,” he added.
As merchants continue to push to be ready for Nov. 22, Husidic urges one message as the doors open and thousands descend on the campus to check out what’s been going on.
“Being our first day, it will be about patience,” he said. “Patience from everyone coming in. Most of these folks have a little bit of training, but there’s nothing like having a line in front of you while you’re trying to make a burger to make you nervous.”
More than food
As if opening for food wasn’t enough, Union Street Market will be diving right into the holiday season, inviting craft vendors in for Small-Business Saturday and continuing its Artisan Market: Holiday Edition.
“Every weekend we will have a holiday craft market in here, as well,” Husidic said of the artisan market, which will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. every Saturday, Nov. 26-Dec. 18. “So, on the weekends, we’ll have close 40 different merchants in here.”
Hitting the ground running is important for Union Street Market, because even though the first few weeks will be busy, it will only get busier as more tenants begin to move onto the campus.
“With having so much support from the community, we think it’s going to be busy every day, regardless of what’s going on on campus,” Husidic said. “And it’s only going to get busier as some of the other tenants around the area start moving in, and they stop in for lunch or cocktails after work or coming back to show the family where they work.”
With most of the heavy lifting out of the way, Husidic is ready to get things off to a good start at Electric Works.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking knowing we’ll be the first, but exciting,” he said.
And for those early visitors, the Union Street Garage will be open by Nov. 22, offering free two-hour parking.