Alchemist Community Development Corporation (Alchemist CDC) was pleased to reveal the new design for Alchemist Public Market (APM) on Friday, October 22, during a visit to the project site in Sacramento’s River District with elected officials and key stakeholders.
Speakers at the event included Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris (D3), Andrew Kehoe (Liaison from Mayor Steinberg’s Office of Civic Engagement), Derek Kirk (Regional Business Development Specialist, California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development [GO-Biz]), Jenna Abbott (Executive Director, The River District), Julius Austin (Sacramento Promise Zone Coordinator, SHRA), and Sam Greenlee (Executive Director, Alchemist CDC).
Alchemist Public Market’s previous concept was oriented toward adaptive reuse of an existing building, but the shift to 341 N 10th St, just one block away from the Mirasol Village project, brought the possibility of new construction with a customer build that could model innovative and sustainable practices. Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture is providing pro bono architectural work for the project and has developed a design that is simultaneously iconic and conducive to providing a needed community gathering place.
Building on Alchemist CDC’s areas of expertise, the project will be an engine of inclusive economic development, small business creation, workforce development, food access, and community-building. Alchemist Public Market will feature an all-electric commissary kitchen to incubate dozens of new food business; outdoor food court with eight incubator restaurants; social enterprise café providing job training and placement; retail store featuring Sacramento-made products from small businesses; co-working office; and weekly farmers’ market. Sacramento non-profit, NorCal Resist, will run the cafe and beer-and-wine service on site, providing paid job training and placement for Sacramento-area residents with high barriers to employment. NorCal Resist has a substantial local track record of supporting and empowering some of the region’s most vulnerable residents.
Alchemist Public Market is a member of the Northern California Farm to Fork Innovation Coalition (F2FIC), a collaborative effort led by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) seeking primary funding from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build Back Better grant program. If awarded, APM will receive $6 million in federal funding to be combined with a $1.5 million match from other sources to be made up of other sources.
Alchemist CDC is a Sacramento-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that connects communities to land, food, and opportunity toward a vision in which every neighborhood is vibrant, equitable, healthy, and diverse. We are best known for enhancing the quality of life in under-resourced communities by improving access to nutritious foods, implementing community-supported public green spaces, and fostering economic self-sufficiency through business entrepreneurship.
Manuscript for Sam Greenlee’s remarks
I would like to express special gratitude to the elected officials and representatives of elected officials who are joining us here today, including representatives from Congresswoman Matsui’s office, from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development also known as (GO-Biz), Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Mayor Steinberg’s office, Councilmember Jeff Harris, and SMUD Director Rob Kerth.
I wish we had time today for me to thank every person who has contributed to this project so far and to detail their contributions, but we would be here for the better part of the afternoon. I do want to be sure to thank the office of Mayor Steinberg, Councilmember Harris, the City of Sacramento’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development, SHRA, the River District, Valley Vision, Stoel Rives, and Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture for the time and resources and expertise they have invested into Alchemist Public Market. I would also like to thank Umpqua Bank, Wells Fargo, Citi Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Merchants Bank of Commerce, Oak Valley Community Bank, United Business Bank, and Tri Counties Bank for the financial resources they contributed toward this project.
Given your presence at this event, you probably have a grasp of all that Alchemist Public Market entails. But I would like to take advantage of our presence here at the project site to help us understand how this project will serve the community once it has opened. To really understand it, we have to imagine this area a few years out after many projects in development are completed.
The fenced area right over there is the actual property that will become Alchemist Public Market. If you look just a block down in this direction, you will see Mirasol Village, a major development that will include hundreds of units of public, affordable, and market rate housing. For the residents of Mirasol Village, and of Township 9 a few blocks to our northwest, Alchemist Public Market will be experienced as a beautiful and hospitable community gathering place to pick up a meal, spend time with friends, buy fresh groceries at the weekly farmers’ market, and quickly pick up milk or eggs during the week. The place where you are standing is set to become the newest public park in the City, where families will come and play before finding a snack next door.
Just three blocks south of us, down N 10th St, we have the future home of the Railyards Stadium. For sports fans, Alchemist Public Market will be a place to grab a bite before the game from a diverse mix of Sacramento’s newest restaurants and celebrate afterward. For tourists visiting the area, Alchemist Public Market will provide a chance to experience a taste of Sacramento and to purchase unique Sacramento-made items from our smallest and most innovative entrepreneurs.
A few blocks to our west, the Richards Boulevard Office Complex will bring thousands of state workers within an easy walk of this site. For these workers, as well as those in the California Lottery and CHP offices a few blocks to our north, Alchemist Public Market will be a place to pick up a morning cup of coffee, grab lunch with coworkers, and meet for after-work drinks.
And now consider the food entrepreneurs who will benefit from this project. We actually have several entrepreneurs from our Alchemist Kitchen incubator program here with us this morning. For them, Alchemist Public Market will mean a modern, efficient, affordable kitchen in which to start their businesses. It will mean a co-working office from which to handle their business administration. More than that, for some it will mean the very first retail shelf where customers can find their product. For others, it will mean launching their restaurant or food truck in the food court. For all of them, it will mean incredible exposure to thousands of officer workers, residents, sports fans, and tourists. As the River District and Railyards develop into a destination, Alchemist Public Market will be a permanent space that provides previously under-resourced entrepreneurs with the tools and opportunities to be included in that economic growth.
Having glimpsed the future, I would like to provide a brief update about the present. As of Monday this week, our Phase 1 application has been submitted to the US Economic Development Adminstration’s Build Back Better grant program which would provide six million dollars, 80% of the project cost. This is an incredible funding opportunity in which every dollar contributed at the state or local level is match four times over with federal dollars. Our project is part of a larger regional collaborative application, led by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and has excellent prospects.
In the meantime, we are currently in escrow on the property and are seeking $475,000 in funding to close on the property. This is one of our most urgent tasks, as our escrow must close by March of 2022. Once we do secure that funding, combined with incentive programs and more than half a million dollars in existing resource commitments, we will have just $270,000 left to raise for the construction project to be fully funded.
Speaking of the construction project, I would like to call your attention to the renderings you see on display. The incredible team at Dreyfuss + Blackford, several of whom are with us this morning, have taken on Alchemist Public Market’s architectural design entirely pro bono. It is no exaggeration to say that this project would still be merely a good idea without their buy-in and constant support. They have been working hard to fit so many essential functions into just .82 acres, while also developing an iconic and energy-efficient design. I am so excited for all of you here to be the first to see these renderings.
And now, it is time for you to hear from some people who are far more interesting than myself. I feel very fortunate that Councilmember Jeff Harris, Andrew Kehoe, Derek Kirk, Jenna Abbott, and Julius Austin have all agreed to say a few words about this project from their own unique positions.