RALEIGH, Tenn. (WMC) - For two decades, a strip of land at Austin Peay Highway and Jones Road in Raleigh, where the former Serra Chevrolet dealership once sat, has been a bit of an eyesore.
On Monday, city, county and state leaders gathered to announce the site will be home to a new farmers market and community park.
"This will become a source of pride for our community because we’re not just talking about a regular farmers market, we’re talking about a dynamic farmers market,” said state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis.
The farmers market will not only give community members access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Parkinson said it will provide relief for people who live in “food deserts” or neighborhoods with no grocery stores.
"You know, our people are dying. Our people are dying of heart disease. Our people are dying of stroke and other diseases that that come from not having the access, you know, to those healthy foods that they need to have,” said Parkinson.
The property, which the City of Memphis now owns, will include a community park with a little league football field, walking trail and amphitheater.
“Projects like this are exactly the type of redevelopment we want to see,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “With the help of Rep. Parkinson, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and our Division of Housing and Community Development, we’re working with community groups to reimagine old structures and give them new life. The addition of the Raleigh Farmers Market will be invaluable to this community, and I’m excited to come back after construction to see it.”
Linda Taylor, a local farmer, says she looks forward to seeing the Raleigh Farmers Market come to life.
"It is going to mean a lot healthier living and I believe it will mean longevity,” said Taylor.
Parkinson says the next step is raising money.
He says it could cost $10 million but the potential economic benefits to the surrounding area will be worth a lot more.
Community partners include Raleigh Community Development Corporation, the City of Memphis, Methodist North Hospital, Slow Foods Memphis, the University of Memphis and the Shelby County government, according to a press release from Parkinson.