Aug 16, 2012

A Visit to Mercado Central -- Minneapolis, MN

A couple of months ago our neighborhood heard about the Portland Mercado project. This project, supported by Hacienda CDC (a non-profit serving Latino and other communities in the Portland region) would redevelop the vacant southeast lot on 72nd and Foster Avenue into the city’s first Latino-themed public market. The Portland Mercado vision will combine elements of indoor public markets, farmers’ markets and the feel of many Latin American open-air markets. The Portland Mercado will offer a mix of goods and services, including culturally specific prepared fresh foods, artisan, and handcrafted items. At our neighborhood presentation regarding this project we learned that a similar market exists in Minneapolis, Minnesota – the Mercado Central. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were on vacation and we had the opportunity to visit Mercado Central. As a neighbor I wanted to share, with all of you, what we saw and learned. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I did take some photos.

Mercado Central in Minneapolis, Minnesota 
Mercado Central is located in Midtown, in south Minneapolis. During this past decade this area has undergone revitalization efforts with the success of many new Latino and Northeast African businesses as well as two indoor public markets – Mercado Central and Midtown Global Market. Mercado Central is located on East Lake Street which is a busy four lane street, similar to Foster Road. Lake Street is dotted with historic buildings that have been redeveloped and offers more commercial/retail uses compared with some of the heavier industrial uses along Foster (Mt. Scott Fuel, Rollaway, etc.). In addition to Mercado Central, one of the focal points on Lake Street is the Midtown Global Market which is located in the redeveloped Sears factory building site and provides a multi-cultural market, office spaces, and housing.

Mercado Central is a blue two-story building with awnings that anchors a corner lot. The main entrance fronts Lake Street with parking located in the back of the building. There are over 25+ vendors located inside the market that are located on both floors of the building.

Various Vendors 
There was a coffee shop and bakery (I had a cookie, it was delicious), a meat market (my husband was excited about this), a small grocery store, vendors selling traditional foods such as tamales and homemade flan. Other stores and services included a luggage/purse shop, a soccer themed sports store (I wish I had taken a picture inside of this area, it was incredibly colorful), tax services and a hair salon.
A large open seating area was located downstairs for people to sit, eat, and/or relax. The large windows facing the street allowed for people watching and natural lighting. There was a community board for postings and for an extremely hot and humid (for us Oregonians) mid-afternoon we observed the market was fairly busy. 
Seating Area
After wandering through Mercado Central and listening to my husband talk about how great it would be to have a local butcher shop in the neighborhood (he loves to BBQ) we decided to venture down to Midtown Global Market. This indoor multi-cultural market was much bigger than Mercado Central and sits on a site just off of Lake Street that also includes professional offices and residential housing in a 10+ story building. The market area in this building is located on a portion of the first floor. 

Midtown Exchange Building (the historic Sears Factory Building)
The Midtown Global Market is located on a portion of the lower floor.  This building also includes professional offices and residential units. 
My friend, disappointed that her favorite tamale vendor was no longer at Mercado Central, was happy to discover that they had moved into Midtown Global Market. This provided a much bigger space and an opportunity for this eatery to offer more menu items. It was nice to see that this was an opportunity for the vendor at Mercado Central to move into a bit larger vendor area at Midtown Global, and keep their business within the existing community. We had a great time visiting both markets in the Midtown area of Minneapolis. It made me wonder, could Foster have both a Latino and multi-cultural market? Similar to the Midtown Exchange building (but not as big) that houses the Global Market we also have a historic building (The Phoenix Pharmacy Building at 67th and Foster) that is looking to be brought back to life. I can see the many opportunities that the Portland Mercado could spur along Foster Road that would not only benefit our surrounding neighborhoods but our entire city! In the next few months we will be hearing from Portland Mercado Project Manager about funding for the project – it would be great to see a project such as this take root.

If you have any questions or would like to see a few more photos, feel free to email me. Erika Palmer-Wilson at 

For more information about the Portland Mercado Project please visit:
For more information about the Phoenix Building please visit:

Community Bulletin Board


Anonymous said...

Great idea, i feel this would add so much to our neighborhood and I would be a, how about a farmer's market on Holgate and Foster?

Erika said...

A midweek,evening,farmer's market in Laurelwood Park would be great!

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