Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Dallas City Council committee approved a plan to change the path of homeless people walking through the Dallas Farmers Market.
A major renovation plan for the Dallas Farmers Market took a step forward Wednesday as a City Council committee approved a project to change the traffic pattern of homeless people walking through the market.
Market vendors have a tough time attracting business.
"We're struggling right now so we still want people to come out," said Larry Solis with North Texas Produce.
The city's homeless assistance center called The Bridge, is right beside the farmers market.
The Bridge entrance faces the market and shoppers often confront homeless people wandering through the market to The Bridge.
Dallas wants a world-class market like some other cities have and the city is negotiating with a developer that offers to add big name restaurants, new homes and offices to compliment the fresh produce offerings at the city owned site near Interstate 30 and Harwood.
Assistant Dallas City Manager Ryan Evans is leading the negotiations.
"The farmers market has always been kind of isolated on a corner of downtown, and the Downtown 360 Plan basically calls for making this a neighborhood, with the farmers market itself being kind of the core of the neighborhood, and that's our goal," Evans said.
The $1.3 million capital improvement plan for The Bridge, approved by the Dallas City Council Housing Committee Wednesday, would move the entrance to St. Paul Street on the other side of the complex.
"We've figured out a way to create a little plaza and a place for folks to be served, and recreate, where they're not out on the streets," Evans said.
But businesspeople on the St. Paul side have safety concerns about the increased foot traffic there.
Dan Millet, an owner of Millet The Printer, said he opposed original construction of The Bridge but has learned to live with it.
"They have their crews that go around every day, several times a day, cleaning and pick up trash and clean up, so we're very, very supportive of it."
But Millet said the proposed entrance is right beside I-30 where a new feeder road was planned long ago as part of the so called Pegasus Project and more foot traffic in that spot would be a hazard.
"I would think even as it is right now, it would be a very dangerous proposition," Millet said.
Donna Huerta with the Texas Department of Transportation said there is no funding lined up for that I-30 improvement so the feeder road would be many years away at the soonest.
The new Bridge entrance is set for a vote of the full Dallas City Council in January.
Evans said a deal with the farmers market developer could be announced this spring.
People connected to the farmers market are anxious to see the changes.
"Hopefully everything will be beneficial to everybody out here," Solis said.