A year since the ribbon-cutting, the Independence Uptown Market building has experienced what city officials call a successful year.
All told, the building at 201 W, Truman Road has hosted 212 events in a year's time, facility supervisor Becca Smith said – far exceeding the city's goal of being in use at least half the time.
“Which really speaks to what the building is for, as a multi-use building,” said Eric Urfer, the city's director of parks, recreation and tourism.
The breakdown: 41 private rental events, 54 special events and 117 days of programs with recurring or ongoing events such as the farmers market or a health-and-wellness class. The facility has an open-air plaza and an enclosed portion with sliding doors to permit wintertime use and open-air summer use.
“It's not only bringing in people from our community, but from other communities, and all age groups,” Smith said.
One of the most popular additions has been the monthly make-and-take workshops, which often sell out, she said. There's also a little waiting list to book private events, she said, and partnerships such as with the Chamber of Commerce for a summer concert series
“It allowed us to add things we wanted to do but just didn't have enough space,” Urfer said. “We've had a whole program marketing niche that we couldn't have reached out to before.”
The facility cost $3.3 million, including excavation of the previous city parking lot on the space. The Rotary Club of Independence raised more than $300,000, and the city used a loan from the Water Department to cover most of the cost.
The Uptown Market budget, covered by the parks improvement sales tax, was more than $197,000 last year but is about $148,500 in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, even with two part-time attendant positions added, as several initial operating expenses came off the books.
Like other recreation facilities, Urfer said, the department doesn't look at the facility as a big revenue generator. But he says it’s not losing large chunks of money.
“When you're looking at overall programming in the department, you're looking at breaking even,” Urfer said. “It's not a cash cow; that's now how we're looking at it.”
Urfer said the city wanted to operate the Uptown Market a year before it did any economic-impact study, “but we know there's a spillover effect, no doubt about that. We've seen them carrying bags from here onto the Square.”