Founders' Hall Market wants to add value to its outdoor space
'The objective is to use the exterior as much as possible'
Officials with the Founders' Food Hall & Market want to expand the outdoor seating area next to the waterfront building to give it more of a street presence and create some space that works in these pandemic times.
Port Charlottetown, which owns the building, is drawing up plans for more green space and a small bandstand stage for entertainment.
"The objective is to use the exterior as much as possible," said Mike Cochrane, CEO of Port Charlottetown.
"Obviously, in a post-COVID-19 era, the focus is a lot on exterior operations and making people feel safe."
Cochrane said the port wants to create seating in six pod-type areas for groups of eight to 10 people to congregate; he calls them "cluster zones." They may look at installing some fire pits as well.
He said the new outdoor space will be good for any kind of artisan demonstrations or local entertainment, as well as just socializing outdoors.
The cost is expected to be around $150,000 and the port hopes the new space can be ready for this summer.
City planners dealing with request
In order to let the outdoor project proceed, the City of Charlottetown's planning department is looking at a request from the port to consolidate two pieces of property.
When Port Charlottetown took over the building, land right beside the building was treated as a separate lot. Now the port says it makes more sense to treat it as one area, so that there is only one boundary line for any development.
"it would have the whole, entire operation on one piece of land," said Mike Duffy, chair of the city's planning committee.
"It makes it easier to administer," he said.
Duffy said he believes the proposal would add to the atmosphere outside Founders' Hall, adding: "On a nice summer's evening, there's not much sense of being stuck inside."
Planning documents related to the request note that the property in question used to be part of a larger plot of land, but the former owner subdivided it.
No concerns with plan expected
Duffy said he didn't feel there were many concerns with the proposal, noting that the city's existing bylaws would be able to deal with any noise concerns.
"It's just a matter of making sure we're all on the same wavelength," he said.
I think it's going to be a very pleasant change.- Mike Cochrane
The proposal will get another look at the next planning meeting on Feb. 1. Then a recommendation will be made to council, and council members will vote on it Feb. 8.
The application does not require any notice to residents, and no public meeting is required to deal with the change.
"It's a heavily utilized area, and to make it more attractive — especially on Water Street, on the main point of traffic coming into Charlottetown — I think it's going to be a very pleasant change," said Cochrane.