Soon, there’ll be a nearby alternative to the Farmers Market for fresh fruits and vegetables. By this fall, our neighborhood will have its own market, manned by neighborhood residents selling fruits, vegetables and crafts.

The East Dallas market will be built on an empty lot at the intersection of Bryan and Burlew. Construction is expected to begin this month and should be completed by September, says Leif Sandberg, senior planner with the City’s Department of Planning and Development.

The market will include a metal shed with 12 vendor stalls and will cost $156,000 to construct. Ultimately, the site will have two sheds, fans and bathrooms. But the master plan – which is estimated to cost $1.25 million – will be developed as funds are available, Sandberg says.

“The intention of the market is to benefit the residents of the Peak-Bryan neighborhood,” Sandberg says. “This is one neighborhood that is probably as disadvantaged as any neighborhood we could find.”

“It’s certainly a section of the City we value. That investment will return itself several-fold.”

Planning for the market has taken many years, says Bob Booker, a volunteer at the Vietnamese Mutual Assistance Association and the East Dallas Police Storefront. Neighborhood residents developed the original plan in the late ‘80s to give members of the Asian community – many of whom relocated from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – jobs, a social area and a place to educate other cultures about their heritage.

“We wanted a good place for Asians to live,” Booker says. “We wanted other ethnicities to be aware of them, to learn about them.”

Ron Cowart, a neighborhood resident who has worked with the Asian community for many years, was one of the original community residents to come up with the idea for the market.

“I don’t know any other place that’s as diverse as East Dallas,” Cowart says. “I think it’s a beautiful area to build up.”

“It’s truly multi-culturalism at its best. They have a lot to respect.”

Cowart and other neighborhood volunteers initially solicited business support for the market, and he hopes they are able to get the momentum and enthusiasm back.

City Councilman Craig McDaniel says approving the market took a while because of a slow-moving bureaucracy and squabbling over the price of land with the previous land owner.

“This will add some stability to the area by re-investing in the area,” McDaniel says.

Since the market idea was conceived, Booker says many Asian families have moved to other parts of the City or obtained other jobs. So market advocates hope the remaining minority and white residents will make the market an international experience.

Dominic Nohe, director of the Vietnamese Mutual Assistance Association, says this market will be similar to markets in Southeast Asia. Nohe hopes the market attracts tourists and residents from throughout the City. He also hopes this is the first step in beautifying the neighborhood.

“We were glad, but it’s a little too late – but better late than never,” Nohe says.

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