Jamie Bienvenu, Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority executive director, vows her organization’s dream to establish a permanent farmers market didn’t go up in smoke Thursday after a major downtown fire.
The authority completed the purchase of the former Supreme Meadow Gold Ice Cream building less than two weeks ago with the intent of using it as the basis of a permanent farmers market. Despite the large fire that destroyed the building at West Powell and North Foster streets, the authority will move forward with its plans, Bienvenu said.
“This was our location for our farmers market,” she said. “We looked at key gateways to downtown, and we agreed this was a perfect place. It’s a sad day to see a historical building in the condition it is in now, but we hope some of the brick can be salvaged.”
For years the Poplar Head Farmers Market has operated in tents for several summer Saturdays in the parking lot of the Dothan Civic Center. Many farmers and local officials have expressed a desire for a permanent structure in recent years, which would provide many benefits to the area.
Bienvenu said a permanent facility would allow farmers to sell produce in various seasons. Officials also have planned to install a canning kitchen to allow farmers to convert their products into a different format, reducing waste while increasing revenue.
Officials had not touched the building, as they were awaiting word from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on whether the property needs a Phase 3 brownfields study or remediation, Bienvenu said. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program provides funds to evaluate properties for environmental hazards and correct them to urge economic development.
Some old tanks had been found on the property, but it was unclear if they posed an environmental hazard given their age, Bienvenu said.
While some structures are salvageable after a fire, it appears very little of the Supreme Meadow Gold facility will be.
“It was a very hot fire,” she said. “The roof collapsed. A wall facing Headland Avenue collapsed. There was bowing of some of the walls that are still standing.”
Still, the authority plans to use the property for a farmers market, which could mean the construction of a new facility, she said.