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Part of the proposed Detroit Regional Food Accelerator project site. Daily Detroit photo.
Part of the proposed Detroit Regional Food Accelerator project site. Daily Detroit photo.

Right now, the building that’s down Erskine street from Roma Cafe in Detroit’s Eastern Market doesn’t look like much. But the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), city officials, and Eastern Market want to turn it into the next big thing when it comes to local food.

The DEGC released an RFP (Request For Proposals) this month to rehabilitate the city-owned 6.2 acre site. It has a prime location as part of Eastern Market, and the proposal would include leasing 15,000 of the overall 104,000 square foot building to the Eastern Market Corporation (that’s the entity that oversees the development of the market). The space would be “in order to accelerate the growth of small to medium sized emerging food businesses by providing ready- to-occupy spaces for companies that need to quickly expand their production capacity.”

To be clear, a food accelerator doesn’t make food move really fast. It’s about incubating and growing local food businesses, as agriculture is becoming more important in Detroit’s long-term comeback story. It also could be quite the draw for shoppers.

From the proposal, which the actual address is 3500 Riopelle Street:

Successful proposals will provide a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, development, and management of this 6.2 acre site, providing a mixed-use development project to accommodate a mix of food related users within a well-designed facility offering an engaging street presence, meant to draw in visitors and provide an interactive experience with the food and beverage makers. The goal of the development project is to transform this large vacant parcel to a built environment that will directly integrate into the existing street grid and further develop the Eastern Market as a walk-able, dynamic, and functioning food district.

So, food-preneurs, if there’s a viable proposal submitted by April 29, 2016 and approved – the process may very well begin on turning around one of Eastern Market’s eyesores into an attraction.