Downtown Orangeburg could soon have its own 6,000-square-foot permanent, open-air market/pavilion.
The Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association unveiled its plans for the pavilion during a One Orangeburg County Leadership Team meeting in September.
"This is our big baby for downtown," DORA Executive Director Candice Roberson said during the meeting. "We are ready to roll it out."
The pavilion will be located at the site of the former Sifly furniture building at the corner of Church and Russell streets. The Sifly building was torn down in October 2015. The lot has been vacant since.
The pavilion will have 12-foot high ceilings with two climate-controlled, handicapped accessible, multi-stalled restrooms, storage and office space.
The open pavilion itself will have natural and mechanical ventilation. The facility will also be able to be closed during inclement weather.
The facility would be able to house 32 vendors. Power and water will be available for vendors and fans and lighting will be installed.
The pavilion, which will be built with timber, will be put out to bid within the next 30 days to 45 days with construction to begin in early spring, Roberson said.
DORA hopes to have the pavilion open by the end of summer 2019.
The pavilion will cost about $800,000, with Phase 1 to include the pavilion and Phase 2 to include a community commercial kitchen.
DORA has commitments of about $660,000 toward the project. The money has come from private donors, foundations and public entities, Roberson said.
Roberson said DORA will continue to try to find sponsors to make the market a reality.
"We just hope the community uses this facility and embraces it with open arms," she said.
The permanent facility is needed due to the growth of the farmers market since its inception four years ago in front of First Baptist Church in downtown Orangeburg, Roberson said.
"With the continued growth of our market, we need this," she said. "This pavilion provides us the opportunity to expand our market hours, access to a covered area in the case of inclement weather, the ability to offer high-speed internet connections for credit card payments and permanent restrooms."
The farmers market started off with an average of about four to six vendors. Today, there are an average of 12 vendors every Tuesday from May through August. Public participation has also increased by 50 percent, Roberson said.
With each farmer/vendor averaging about $600 per week in sales, 2018 gross revenues for farmers exceeded $115,200. All the farmers who use the market are from Orangeburg County.
But the pavilion will not just be for farmers, Roberson said.
"This is for everyone in Orangeburg," she said. "We want to see family reunions, wedding receptions, oyster roasts. If it rains at a street dance, we will move it under here."
The pavilion could also host such things as arts and craft shows, flower symposiums and other community events.
"This project, along with several projects looking to begin soon, will complete the renovations of the core of downtown Orangeburg," Roberson said. "The mission of DORA is to encourage the development, redevelopment and improvement of downtown Orangeburg and to promote downtown merchants and businesses in order to create a strong economic base for our community."
"This project falls right in line with our mission," she continued. "We see this as a springboard for the development and revitalization of downtown buildings to house restaurants, retail spaces, business offices and downtown living spaces."
"To make this project happen, our community has to support us," Roberson said. "It takes a village to build a pavilion."