A new air-conditioned farmers market with 115 vendors, selling everything from fresh produce to seafood, is set to open on Aug. 18 in the Oneco Square Shopping Center. “We’re full,” property manager Brian DeLutz said Monday of the 26,000 square feet of vendor space, which was formerly occupied by a Winn-Dixie supermarket. “Now it’s crunch time.” Row after row of vendor space has been erected inside the cavernous space at 5108 15th St. E., and crews are busy getting the building ready for the launch of the shopping center anchor.
Also planned for the market is an area served by 11 local restaurants — everything from American comfort food to soul food, Chinese, Mexican and Central American. The farmers market will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and provide a destination for those within walking distance as well as those willing to drive a few miles, DeLutz said.
“It’s nice to create something and become a new center for the community,” he said.
In late 2017, Oneco Center Holdings LLC of Fort Lauderdale paid $4.9 million to Harwin Tobin Oneco Square LLC of Hollywood for the shopping center, located north of 53rd Avenue East. It previously sold for $9.5 million in 2007. The new owners had their work cut out for them when they took over the 128,536-square-foot shopping center, which was empty except for four tenants: Dollar General, City Trends Clothing, a Chinese restaurant and a Subway sandwich shop. Among the new businesses that have opened or have signed leases are a hair salon, Caribbean restaurant, Habitat for Humanity Restore, barbershop, ice cream shop, game room, Boost Mobile, Mexican restaurant, tax preparation office and Music Go Round.
Oneco Center Holdings repaved the parking lot, put in new landscaping and plans to add an outdoor children’s play area and show free outdoor movies the first Saturday of the month on the sprawling 15-acre site.
Customers would be able to watch the movies from their cars and tune in to the sound on their FM car radio, DeLutz said. “It’s putting a foot forward and seeing what we can make happen in this area. We grew so rapidly that the next thing that you know, I am here full time,” DeLutz said. “We’re trying to create more value in the community for people to come and enjoy the property.” He said the Aug. 18 debut will be a soft opening to allow vendors to get their footing, prior to a grand opening in November.
Vendor space starts at $7 a day, which typically works out to $210 a month. Some vendors have leased more than one space. “It’s local and it’s affordable, and the farmers will be able to tell you exactly where the produce came from,” DeLutz said.
Karen McElroy, director of retail for Manatee Habitat Restore, is appreciative of all the changes in the shopping center. “There are a lot of great changes for the community. We have heard that from a lot of customers,” McElroy said. “It is neighborhood revitalization.”
DeLutz agrees: “We have put a lot of sweat equity into the property, and the feedback has been astonishing. It’s been an amazing experience.” Habitat has spoken for 43,000 square feet of space in the shopping center, including retail space and future office space. For more information on Oneco Farmers Market, call 941-909-FARM, or visit the company’s Facebook or Instagram pages.