Gem City Market to kick off construction with celebration next week

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 @ 5:11 PM

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the Gem City Market.  Left to right: Kenya Baker, Gem City Market Community Engagement Director; Amaha Sellassie, Gem City Market Board President; Corinne Sanders, Gem City Market Community Engagement Coordinator
Rachel DB
A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the Gem City Market. Left to right: Kenya Baker, Gem City Market Community Engagement Director; Amaha Sellassie, Gem City Market Board President; Corinne Sanders, Gem City Market Community Engagement Coordinator(Rachel DB)

Organizers say the Gem City Market will take a giant leap forward next week, and local residents should get their shovels ready. 

The market’s groundbreaking is set for Wednesday, Sept. 18, during a block party. The project was first announced in 2017 to help address northwest Dayton’s food insecurity issues. 

Gem City Market held its first community block party at the co-op grocery store’s future site, 300 Salem Ave., Thursday, September 27. The event included free food, health screenings, Homefull's Local Produce Stand, a bounce house and children’s activities sponsored by the UNIT and Dayton Police. The Market is current selling memberships on its website, gemcitymarket.com. The Gem City Market volunteers aims to help address the food desert, the lack of available healthy food options, in west Dayton.(courtesy of Mark Willis)

Construction and demolition work will begin three or so weeks later, Kenya Baker, the market’s community engagement manager, and Lela Klein, its executive director, told this news organization Wednesday. 

Content Continues Below

MORE: Lots of color, lots of windows: How Gem City Market will light up northwest Dayton

“It is a momentous milestone in terms of actually seeing the manifestation of the actual store,” Baker said. 

If all goes as planned, the market will have a ribbon-cutting in September 2020, Baker and Klein said. 

     

THERE WILL BE TWO GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONIES 

The first groundbreaking and block party celebration is set for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 18 at the market to be located in the 300 and 400 block of Salem Avenue.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former U.S. Ambassador Tony P. Hall, Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge and other elected officials and community members will take part in a groundbreaking ceremony at 4 p.m. 

Gem City Market members have decided to ask voters for approval to sell alcohol when the store opens. FILE(Staff Writer)

A second groundbreaking ceremony for supporters and the general public will take place at 6 p.m. 

>> Tiki bar dreams and co-oping schemes: Here is what to know about Daytonian of the Week Lela Klein

Organizers hope to take a giant group photo with community members. 

“Bring a shovel, even if it is a toy shovel, or a garden spade,” Klein said. 

FREE BBQ, ACTIVITIES AND PERFORMANCES 

The event will include free barbecue, a bounce house, a live DJ, health screening, a fitness demonstration from Gem Life and representatives from universities. 

The future site of the Gem City Market, on the 300 and 400 block of Salem Ave. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF(Staff Writer)

There will be hula-hoopers, a live performance by the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II and Aurora Fire, a Yellow Springs-based fire dance team.

People are encouraged to bring a side dish item to share as part of a potluck meal. 

“I think it is important that the community comes out and takes part in the celebration,” Baker said. “The store is for them.” 

MARKET TO HELP ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITIES 

Organizers say the market — a co-op — is designed to provide health food to the area. 

Baker said the market will also employ 27 people.

>> The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow needs your help

“The Dayton area, particularly northwest Dayton, has seen a lot of disinvestment over the last 50 or 60 years,” Baker said.

The market is a reinvestment in the community, she said. 

The co-op store will offer affordable, specialty, local and organic products as well as fresh produce and meats and “kitchen staples,” organizers have said. 

The Gem City Market has received more than $2.4 million in charitable donations in a little over a year(Staff Writer)

It will also include meeting rooms, a teaching kitchen and community outdoor space.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR MARKET

In June, the market announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved Greater Dayton Premier Management’s request that $997,000 in unused funds from a grant be reallocated for the project. 

>> Gem City Market lands nearly $1 million 

About $4 million was raised from philanthropic sources as well as state, city and county grants, Klein has said.

The market has already sold 2200 memberships, and when combined with donated equity, Klein says they have a total of $400,000 in community contributions to the co-op.

>> Netflix and podcasting superstars lend huge helping hand to Dayton Gem City Market 

Organizers have high hopes for the market. 

“Now the question will be ‘will the community embrace it,” Baker said. “Will our members turn into shopping.” 

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS PROVIDED BY GEM CITY MARKET: 

4 to 5 p.m.| Food Distribution-Food Bank 

Families and individuals can wait in line for a mobile food pantry. Last year, the lines began to form several hours before the event began. 

4 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.|  Kick off, comments and groundbreaking ceremony. 

4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. | Gem Life health and fitness demonstrations 

6 p.m. | community groundbreaking photo-op 

Community members are encouraged to bring their own shovels — including toy shovels, garden spades, etc, for a giant group photo of the community breaking ground. 

6:30 p.m. |  Gem Life health and wellness demonstrations 

7:15 p.m. | Live performance by DCDC II 

 7:30 p.m. | Aurora Fire Dancers performance