Future cloudy for Dallas Farmers Market



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Posted on October 1, 2010 at 12:02 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 1 at 12:23 AM


DALLAS — The taxpayer-owned Dallas Farmers Market is bleeding cash.

News 8 has learned the downtown market's operating losses this year are four times higher than predicted. It comes at a time when budgets are tight and the city is looking for a private group willing to take over day-to-day operations.

Jim Ingendorf owns a large produce storage facility adjacent to the Dallas Farmers Market. When the city announced plans to have a private company run the market, Ingendorf was interested.

That feeling didn't last after seeing the city's bid documents. "I'm of the opinion that they don't know a whole lot about their business," he said.

Earlier this year, the city projected the market would lose $137,000. Dallas now says the actual number is about $800,000 — that's 480 percent over budget.

The city has not provided prospective bidders like Ingendorf with any explanation about how it go so far into the hole.

"I don't know what constitutes that $800K loss," he said.

For the last two days, News 8 has asked the city to show us the financial statements for the market. So far, they have not provided those documents.

The head of the Dallas Convention Center, which oversees the Farmers Market, has been unavailable to to discuss the facility's operating losses.

Proposals are due in less than three weeks, but the city still has yet to tell prospective bidders how much rent vendors pay, nor has it showed them a layout of the property or furnished inspection reports on the conditions of the buildings.

"It's crazy," Ingendorf said. "It's crazy."

With the market in this state, Ingendorf said he can't imagine anyone making a serious bid. In fact, he wonders if the Market will even survive.

"I really don't believe, in a year from now, this place will still be open," he said.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com