Public Market: More funding needed


The forward march of the new year has meant a new sense of urgency for the group trying to create Colorado Springs’ first public market.

A recently completed business plan and a commitment to be more proactive in securing financing have been steps in the right direction, but opening before the summer, the market board’s original best-case scenario, doesn’t look likely.

“We have a lot of work to do to get open this year,” said Chris Cipoletti, board chair for the market. “We’ve made some pretty aggressive commitments. To make those happen, a lot of work still needs to get accomplished. But our goal is still to open in 2016. Late summer might be doable. I know, if I had that conversation with all of our board members, some would respectfully disagree, but I don’t see how we’ll be open for summer.”

Growing Payne

The Colorado Springs Public Market is expected to be a fresh- and prepared-food marketplace, and will occupy the former Payne Chapel at 320 S. Weber St., southeast of downtown. The 6,000-square-foot building already has commitments from several vendors, but renovations still need to be accomplished before it can open for business.

Cipoletti said $1.75 million is needed to purchase the building, which is currently being leased, and to complete renovations.

The biggest challenge has been the money, said market board member and City Councilor Jill Gaebler. The organization needs to raise $800,000 to buy the building, an additional $600,000 for renovations, as well as money for a contingency fund to maintain operational stability during the next four years.

“Funding is huge. We have no revenue coming in except for a few small donations. But we’re still paying rent and utilities. The sooner we can open, the better,” she said.

“Then we’ll have rental income, and we’ll be set up as an enterprise, and will be mostly self-sufficient once we open. That’s important for donors to know — we won’t continue to ask for funding.”

Gaebler said the market will provide fresh and nutritious food in an area surrounded by “7-Elevens and fast food restaurants.”

She said, with new downtown residential options on the rise, a walkable market will be even more beneficial. Cipoletti agreed, adding more people living downtown will only increase the market’s desirability.

“[Downtown housing] will make the market more successful,” he said. “If there is a downtown community and downtown is livable, it will help fuel the success of the market. And it makes downtown housing more attractive because you can walk, instead of drive, to get fresh produce.”

Cipoletti said the public market has commitments from six vendors, including Ranch Foods Direct (their second location), a coffee vendor, and fresh produce and prepared food vendors.

The board is “in conversation with about 50 other vendors,” he said.

Gaebler said several donations have helped pay current operating costs, and she added that the Anschutz Foundation committed to a substantial donation as well. The amount has not been disclosed.

Donated services

According to Cipoletti, much of the market’s progress has been made thanks to donated services.

“We have a handful of people who have made donations — some board members and some non-board members who are keeping things going,” he said. “But plans and drawings have been donated services. A board member has done a lot of our construction drawings. Almost everything we have is because of smaller donations.”

Cipoletti said the market should have a significant economic impact downtown and throughout the regional agricultural and food preparation industries. He said the public market’s goal is to increase local food consumption to 25 percent.

“If we accomplish that, we’ve modeled 4,000 new jobs, $125 million in additional annual wages and $25 million in additional annual tax revenue,” he said.

“We did a feasibility study for the market and we looked at other markets. We’re a little unique in that most public markets have some public/private partnership, where the city helps with at least the startup costs. For Colorado Springs as a community, good or bad, that’s just not something we do. Our model looks a little different in that we’re looking at private donations, but we have a good relationship with the city.”

Cipoletti projected the market will be solvent within the next three years, with losses the first year to range between $80,000 and $90,000. The second year, operational losses drop to between $10,000-$20,000 and, in its third year, it should start showing reserves “that can be reinvested in the community,” and in growing physical space.

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The Payne Chapel was one of six properties Gen. William J. Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs, deeded to establish churches in Colorado Springs. It was home to the city’s African Methodist Episcopal congregation until 1986. Most recently, the building housed the Green Man Taproom, and was known for several years as the Carter-Payne Events Center.


  1. Rick Wehner


    “the market will provide fresh and nutritious food in an area surrounded by “7-Elevens and fast food restaurants.”

    7-Elevens and fast food restaurants may not have fresh, nutritious food but what they do have is sufficient cash to open and operate plus they contribute significantly to the revenues produced locally and are your constituents.

    What might be needed, however, it for you to call city attorneys and fellow council members to huddle over a weekend and draft an ordinance calling for a six month moratorium on any new 7-Elevens or Fast Food Restaurants until regulations can be drafted to ensure they comply with what you personally feel is appropriate in order that we as citizens be protected from ourselves!

    Then – perhaps spend some time considering what impact it has on ‘outsiders’ considering a move to Colorado Springs when they hear a low horsepower city council woman making an implied statement that a large segment of local revenue producers are less than welcome businesses because they serve a product that you feel as a ‘public market board member’ and as a ‘city council member’ is not acceptable?

    Being a novice, green-weenie council member and serving on a ‘board’ for a start-up that will compete with other businesses in the area may not be a conflict of interest or bring up ethical considerations but how close to the ankle is the foot?

  2. John

    This Springs does not have a market to support such an institution as this.

    With a large population of transient deployed military families and a large population of people living on a fixed income, few could afford to support an institution such as this.

    Those with the ways and means to afford better shopping and dining simply make the drive to south Denver metro.

    I’m not sure who this market is really expected to serve.

  3. Corey Wilson

    Wow.. those are pretty impressive economic forecasts…. 25% local food. 125 million in wages. 25 million in tax revenues. I’m a huge advocate for a reformed local food economy but when you take 8 years to sell a pipe dream you are just a grant writing, trust funded failure. At least Mike sells good beef. Those who can do… those who can’t spend eight years doing market research, creating focus groups, and generally wasting time.

  4. Mary

    Three cheers and thank you to the visionaries behind the Public Market. My family lives downtown, and we can’t wait to do our shopping in that gorgeous, historic space. This will be a happy game-changer for the city, moving us toward greater resilence, increased walkability,and an ability to attract young people and young families. Onward!

  5. Judy

    I’m originally from Seattle and the Pikes Place Market downtown is a huge draw for tourists as well as a magnet drawing locals who live miles away to endure traffic and parking hassles to come downtown and shop at the Market. It has been an economic engine for jobs and tax revenue for Seattle – which has the same population as COS. The proposed COS Market will live up to predictions as a spur to revitalize downtown and create jobs. The sole difference between Seattle and Colorado is that one has fish and the other has beef.

    I don’t live downtown, or even near downtown, but I want the proposed Public Market to become a reality because it is a major component in the food hub concept. Local farmers and food producers CAN feed that sizeable and growing segment of the population that wants to eat “good food … that’s good for you.” But currently, aside from summer CSAs and farmers markets, small farmers do not have a local outlet where they can sell their goods. With the Market open year-round, the public will have access to fresh locally grown produce during all 4 seasons. You can read about the food hub idea in Local Food Shift Colorado magazine, fall 2015 issue. I got my copy at Ranch Foods Direct.

  6. Elise Rothman

    I am shocked by the negative comments that some community members have made about Jill Gaebler’s efforts and the CS Public Market project. Just because relocalizing our food sector is a huge challenge and looks almost, well impossible, it doesn’t mean we should just give up and say, well at least we have 7-Eleven’s & some good meat.

    98% of the food Coloradans consume comes from out of the state. If we don’t begin to drive demand for local food and boost production to meet that demand, we will forever be dependent on out-of-state food supply sources. Since California is supplying most of our produce, and their water supply is dwindling, we know what’s coming. Besides the fact that we are bleeding money from a non-local food economy. Remember, even when the economy slows, people always need food. A local food system means a healthy and resilient economy.

    The city of Denver just recently authorized 1 million in tax incentives for a local food project. Let’s push our city to follow suit.

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