The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market is undergoing extensive renovations and at least one vendor says he hopes the overhaul will mark the end of tumultuous times for the market.
Julie Chaisson, the executive director of the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market, said the main change will be in the centre of the building.
"We're creating a brand new, central entrance to the market so it's required some changes within the centre court of the market. Specifically to the main stairway, which we are removing and splitting in two," she told CBC News.
"We're going to be creating two separate staircases on either side of the existing main one but providing seating within the stairs so that folks that like to sit there now can still sit there."
The vertical garden — or living wall — that used to adorn the west side of the building has been removed and the plants put in pots to give away to customers.
That wall will be removed for the new, main entrance and the market intends to install garage doors on either side that can be opened in the summer.
There will also be two new bathrooms, an additional staircase at the south side of the market and a bar-height counter with bar stools along parts of the railing on the second floor.
Chaisson said the Halifax Port Authority, which is paying for the renovations, does not have a final cost estimate because the renovations are happening in stages — once the large changes are made to the interior of the building, the market will hold public consultations to get more input on what should change.
"We started this week to remove the trees and kind of to get the messy work done but we're just getting the drawings on the doors," she said.
"The whole premise is that we can provide a really good customer experience and we took that feedback and I think we're well on our way to make those changes that our customers and our vendors want to see."
A local firm called Breakhouse is responsible for the new design. A spokesman at the design firm told CBC News they estimate the first phase of renovations will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The new entrance is expected to be ready next month — until then, interior market vendors will be closed from Monday to Thursday. The storefront vendors will be open all week.
Vendors shown new design
Chris de Waal, the vice-president of butchery operations at Getaway Farm, said vendors were shown a 3D design a few weeks ago and feeling optimistic.
"We're really excited about what we've seen from management with the plans for the Farmers' Market. They're sparing no expense to help fine tune this market into being what it was always intended to be," he said Wednesday.
"Everything that we're seeing, it doesn't change the spirit of the market. It just helps really build on it and make it more impactful, a greater opportunity to showcase Nova Scotian agriculture. It's really exciting."
The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market has had a tumultuous couple of years since it opened in August 2010.
Ballooning construction costs resulted in a $10-million debt and the City Market of Halifax Co-operative was forced to dissolve and surrender the lease and management of the market to the Halifax Port Authority.
Several vendors left the farmers' market, including The Fish Shop, one of the anchor vendors.
De Waal, who was the president and chairman of the City Market of Halifax Co-operative, said he felt the market had turned a corner.
"This is a big place with a lot of high lofty dreams and regardless of what's been done in the past, we have very high hopes that absolutely, this is the dawn of a new day and there's fantastic things to come," he said.
"I hope that there's a renewed hope in the fact that this place can be a beacon for Nova Scotian food, Nova Scotian cuisine, local producers throughout the week."