Federal Urban Development Program Can Be A Good Neighbor

      Posted On: January 19, 2009

Looking for space to start or relocate a farmers market in your city or town? While farmers markets are uniquely creative in establishing in-kind partnerships for affordable and strategic locations, sometimes high real estate prices and parking limitations make the ideal central location unfeasible. A federal government program you may have never heard about may be able to help.

The General Service Administration (GSA) is the agency that manages more than 8,000 properties owned and leased by the federal government, including more than 2,000 in urban communities. Via the GSA’s Urban Development/Good Neighbor Program, the GSA fosters local partnerships, public use of its real estate holdings, and supports community based urban development.

Part of the Urban Development/Good Neighbor Program is to make federal spaces available to farmers markets where and when feasible. Rents are designed to be either free, or very low, and the locations are often very desirable. One example of how farmers markets can work at a GSA managed property is at the USDA building in DC, which hosts successful regular season and off-season farmers markets.

The first step in finding out if there is an appropriate property near you is by searching the GSA Inventory of Owned and Leased Properties here. If you find something you may be interested in, contact the GSA’s Office of the Architect at 202-501-1888 or on-line at www.gsa.gov/goodneighbor. From there, the Good Neighbor Program staff can walk you through the next steps.

Considering that Farmers’ Market Today magazine recently reported that over 40% of farmers markets are in downtown business districts, the federal government could be a good neighbor indeed.