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Hegna wants Farmers Market to stay put

New construction along Bemidji Avenue has people wondering what's going to happen to the North Country Farmers Market.

"We don't know," said Dick Schmidt, the chairman of the Farmers Market.

The Farmers Market, which operates in the summertime from July through October, is located in the Pamida parking lot.

But a portion of the parking lot is now being developed by Hegna Inc. into a multi-tenant center that will feature a new Subway restaurant.

"Our intent is not to take out any activity in that location," said Wes Hegna of Hegna Inc. "The Farmers Market is a very valuable asset to this community."

Hegna wants the Farmers Market to stay put.

"We would like to find a way to work with as a team and work together," he said.

The new building is going to a 6,500-square-foot center that will house a Subway with a drive-through and another business, presumably another food establishment.

Hegna said the traffic generated by the Famers Market would be welcome to Subway, which will relocate from its current position on Second Street.

"Ultimately, it would be good for us to have them stay," Hegna said. "Someone stopping to buy a bag of sweet corn might want to grab a sub while they're there."

The Farmers Market, too, would like to stay in its current location.

"Wes would like very much for us to be able to stay there," Schmidt said. "We'll have to see how much room is left once he gets the building up."

The Farmers Market dates back 32 years. It has been in its current location since 2005, when construction of the new layout of the split Bemidji Avenue/Paul Bunyan Drive was complete.

During construction, from 2002 to 2004, the Farmers Market was located in the parking lot at Paul Bunyan Mall.

But business there, Schmidt said, was not ideal.

"Unfortunately, the traffic just didn't turn in," he said.

Ideally, he noted, the Farmers Market will find a permanent location. The market now boasts 16 members which should each have a 12-foot by 16-foot space.

"We're open to suggestions," Schmidt said, noting that the Downtown Development Authority and Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce are looking for a site.

The relationship between Pamida and the Farmers Market has been good, Schmidt said.

In fact, Pamida "graciously" has offered indoor space for the Farmers Market this winter, he said.

The dates and times have not yet been released, but he said there will be a "winter market" indoors this year.

The winter market itself is not new in Bemidji, but it previously was held outdoors.

The winter market will feature, among many items, jellies, jams, pickles, relishes and bakery items.

"There are a number of people who have some really neat products," Schmidt said.

More development

Several projects are under construction in Bemidji, in addition to the new Subway building.

On the northwest side of town, a new retail store is being constructed behind the Ground Round.

That new building will be 4,500 square feet and will serve as a new location for Roger's Wireless, which now is located across Paul Bunyan Drive in a strip mall on the 2200 block of Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest, according to Andrew Mack, assistant planner with the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning office.

Also, on the corner of Bemidji Avenue North and 23rd Street Northwest, a new single-story office building is being constructed.

The office complex will serve two businesses.

Karvakko Engineering will take over the larger of the two areas, according to Bill Barthelemy, building official with the city of Bemidji. Karvakko Engineering will relocate from its current position strip mall across the street in the retail center on the 100 block of Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest.

The other business has yet to be announced, Barthelemy said.