Cleveland finalizing contract for consultant at West Side Market


The city also laid out several goals for the market in 2021, including the installation of new arcade doors.

CLEVELAND — Editor’s Note: The above video aired on December 22, 2020

On Monday evening, the city of Cleveland provided an update on the state of the West Side Market, the historic venue that it owns and manages. 

According to the city’s statement, it is in the process of finalizing a contract with a strategic consultant for the market. As 3News reported back in February, the consultant would be asked to execute a handful of tasks, including analyzing and recommending changes for four key areas: 

  • Administrative: Create a process and establish a tool to evaluate vendor performance and vendor selection. Develop a tool to receive customer feedback and evaluate customer satisfaction.
  • Entrepreneurial Growth & Recruitment: Provide recommendations on vendor recruitment. Develop recommendations to diversify products and services. Analyze the role of the Market as a business incubator and identify specific services required to support the success of vendors. Make recommendations for creative revenue streams that encourage repeat customer visits.
  • Facilities Management & Capital Planning: Review West Side Market Capital Plan to focus on customer access to products, services and events. Review and assess the day to day maintenance practices of the facilities and provide recommendations on ways to increase efficiency, streamline project coordination and enhance communication with vendors and outside departments.
  • Encourage Community Engagement, Outreach and Bridge Building: Review and assess the WSM 2019 Community Survey and 2019 Marketing Plan to create tools that measure customer satisfaction going forward as the vendor recommendations are implemented. Conceptualize a plan on how the WSM can enhance its strategic relationships while adhering to its core mission. Engage in collaborative partnerships with community partners (i.e. RTA, VA, Hunger Network, Cleveland Restoration etc.).

“We are in search of a consultant that can think outside of the box to enhance the Market’s competitive edge,” Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown said in February. “As the historic institution continues to adapt to the evolving demands of 21st Century customers, the City of Cleveland seeks a consultant who can evaluate and recommend ways to enhance overall customer experience, vendor mix, and quality of products and services. We also want to create a process for customers to be able to provide feedback.”

3News Food Correspondent Doug Trattner spoke to several market tenants last week, including Don Whitaker, owner of D.W. Whitaker Meats and president of the West Side Market Tenant Association. Whitaker believes that the needs of all interested stakeholders will be taken into consideration by the consulting group.

Here is the city’s full statement on the West Side Market:

Work at the WSM continues despite the unexpected challenges presented in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early April, amid increasing cases of coronavirus, the City of Cleveland deferred April, May and June rent payments for WSM tenants. In an effort to help further mitigate tenants’ financial hardship during the pandemic, the City ultimately forgave the rent for those same three months. 

During this time, the tenants worked with the city to offer phone/online orders with curbside pickup to provide an added convenience to customers.

The City of Cleveland has met with a strategic consultant and is in the process of finalizing the contract. Currently, a new vendor booth prototype is under construction, new arcade doors are expected to be installed in 2021 and bids to conduct electrical upgrades, and design a new meat preparation room are also expected.

Despite the city’s latest efforts, not only does a clear majority of vendors agree that the time has come for the city to hand over management of the market, but local legislators do as well.

“It is still my contention that, like many public markets across America, we should evolve the market to remain City owned, but to have a nonprofit model of management,” argues Kerry McCormack, Cleveland City Councilman of Ward 3, where the market is situated. “This would mean that a nonprofit, with its only mission being the wellbeing of the West Side Market and its vendors, would run the day to day operations. This model has been proven to be successful in public markets here in Ohio and around the country.”

In addition, vendors have a laundry list of other pressing concerns that they say will help the market attract more vendors and provide a better product to the public. Currently, according to Whitaker, vacancies inside the main market hall stand at 17 percent. Next door, in the produce annex, they run considerably higher at 60 percent. While there are myriad factors causing such a trend, which agreeably has accelerated during the pandemic, insiders say an obsolete and convoluted lease structure is to blame for much of it.

There is a provision that charges vendors different rents based on the types of food they sell, primarily fresh versus cooked and/or prepared. Another curious and maddening feature of the lease agreements, according to tenants, is the fact that every term is for a period of one year.

More West Side Market coverage:

Editor’s Note: The below story aired on March 20, 2020


Source link

Related Posts

Marya Vinget

Marya Vinget is a freelance writer who works for may content writing agencies and for personal blog owners. She loves to write about everything from Tech to entertainment, You can hire her for the versatile writing attitude.