Founders' Hall Market wants to add value to its outdoor space

Founders' Food Hall & Market wants to expand its outdoor space, to create an atmosphere as well as create safe, socially distanced seating as the COVID-19 pandemic goes on.

'The objective is to use the exterior as much as possible'

There is currently some seating on the Water Street side of Founders Hall. Port Charlottetown wants to expand that with more seating areas, maybe some fire pits, and a small stage for entertainment. (Laura Meader/CBC)

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. 

'We just want to make Founders Hall as attractive as possible,' said Mike Cochrane, CEO of Port Charlottetown. He said there has been amazing local support for the venue. (Laura Meader/CBC)

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. 

Mike Duffy, chair of the city's planning committee, said he believes a proposal for outdoor space improvements will add to the atmosphere by Founders Hall. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"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.  

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