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Work begins on downtown farmers market
EVERETT — A large apartment building and year-round farmers market at Grand Avenue and Wall Street had its ceremonial groundbreaking last week with Tibetan monks blessing the site.
The 425,000-square-foot Pagoda Village is the latest development for Lobsang Dargey, a former Tibetan monk who rose from being an impoverished immigrant to eventually become one of Everett’s most influential developers.
Pagoda Village is situated a block away from Dargey’s Potala Village, a mixed-use development. Pagoda Village will have 220 apartment units, a year-round farmers market and a hotel. The farmers market will serve as a distribution center for local farmers, have a commercial kitchen and two restaurants. Parking will be underground.
The $53 million project actually broke ground this past fall.
Dargey said he hopes to have Pagoda Village built in 18 months.
Snohomish County agriculture officials consider the distribution center as an important piece to let local agriculture ship their products.
The distribution center will be important, farmer Albert Postema said.
“To have farmers have a place like a Pike Place Market, it’s important,” Postema said.
Postema’s father John Postema told Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon nine years ago a distribution site like this is what local farmers need to compete, Reardon said at the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Grocery stores are currently selling lettuce from California brought in by truck instead of what’s grown here, Albert Postema said.
Everett’s economic development manager Lanie McMullin couldn’t believe what she heard when Dargey agreed to the farmers market.
“Lobsang said: ‘You want a market, OK, I will build a market, but it has to be in downtown Everett’,” McMullin said.
It was just what she needed to hear. McMullin and Snohomish County agriculture coordinator Linda Neunzig had been working for years trying to get a central distribution hub for farmers.
The 50,000-square-foot indoor farmers market at Pagoda Village could rival the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mayor Ray Stephanson said.
So far, 20 farmers have agreed to sell their produce at the market, Neunzig said.
Investors from China will be financing the project. The federal EB-5 program allows foreign wealthy people to buy their way into the U.S. It requires foreign investors to invest a minimum of $500,000 in a project that creates at least 10 new jobs. The program’s investors get visas in return.
Dargey says the project should create a lot more than 10 jobs. Dargey’s company Path America is constantly promoting Everett in China.
The hotel at Pagoda Village is one of two projects the city is considering targeting as a recipient of a $25 million allocation in federal new market tax credits the city secured a few years ago, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said last week.
No city dollars to date have gone into Pagoda Village, Reardon said.
At the Sno-Isle Food Co-Op on Grand Avenue, where local produce make up most of its food for sale, the nonprofit sees the indoor farmers market as a good thing, co-op spokeswoman Erin Treat said last week.
“Whenever there’s more ability for people to eat local food, the better for our neighbors and community,” Treat said.
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