Eastern Market's rich harvest: Updated Shed 5 debuts

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit — Saturday is expected to be sunny and warm; a perfect backdrop for the debut of the latest renovation of the historic Eastern Market.

After three years of work, and $8.5 million of upgrades, Shed 5 debuts with heated cement floors, an industrial-size community kitchen that aims to be a hotspot for local food entrepreneurs, the Kid Rock Community space, and a new DTE Energy Foundation Plaza, which is an open space where trucks used to unload goods.

"Eastern Market is one of Detroit's greatest treasures and is a growing hub for economic activity that supports Michigan farmers, local businesses, and consumers," said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, the Democrat who is one of the many supporters in the market's ongoing upgrade. The public market has been serving Detroit since 1891.

In 2006, a big turning point occurred at Eastern Market. That's when a private-partnership called Eastern Market Corp took over business operations and since then the funding and upgrades of the market have been steady.

"This is our third major shed completion since 2006, with $16 million in investment and, by far, our most transformational," said Dan Carmody, president of the non-profit Eastern Market Corp. That's mainly because of the community kitchen and commons area, he said.

The main floor of Shed 5 has been open while the upgrades have been installed but on Saturday everything will be in operation.

The Kid Rock Kitchen Commons will be used to host community events for around 50 to 60 people, a space that previously could not have been hosted at Eastern Market. The musician donated to the cause after a chance meeting with an Eastern Market employee.

The community kitchen aims to become an incubator for the growing Detroit food economy. The fully-licensed kitchen will be used by small food entrepreneurs with space for community education about cooking and nutrition. The kitchen can be rented by the hour, between $18 to $24 an hour, and a storage facility is also available. The kitchen will also be part of the Detroit Kitchen Connect program, a city-wide network to grow neighborhood food businesses and the local food economy.

The Kid Rock Kitchen Commons will be used to host community events for around 50 to 60 people, a space that previously could not have been hosted at Eastern Market. The musician eagerly donated to the cause after a chance meeting with an Eastern Market employee, Carmody said.

The DTE Energy Foundation Plaza is just outside Shed 5 along Russell Street. It will be an outdoor gathering space, with seating, entertainment and its own food options, which likely means food trucks and vendors.

In addition, Shed 5 will have enhanced selling space for flower and plant growers at the Saturday market, as well as for the overnight weekday wholesale market that is widely utilized by local grocers and food distributors.

More renovations of Eastern Market are on the way. Part of the Russell Street sidewalk is still being upgraded and soon a brand new Shed 4 will be built.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN