(UPDATED at 5 p.m. Friday)
The popular Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood will be open for business this weekend after an agreement was reached Friday to reverse a city-ordered shutdown. Concerns about growth, safety and parking issues triggered the sudden closure on Thursday, which would have put a major dent in the pockets of 500 vendors and workers who derive income from the weekend-only market.
”I am happy to report the market will be open this weekend,” market owner Eyal Lalo wrote by email Friday. “After productive collaboration and hard work by the city of Hollywood and in spirit of cooperation we worked together to ensure uninterrupted operation of the market.”
Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Storey confirmed the agreement and said, “Provided that all conditions ... are met, Yellow Green Farmer’s Market will be able to open for business tomorrow.
“There is substantial work required … [for] the life-safety issues, but it is achievable,” Storey said. “The agreement also requires them to come into compliance with building and fire codes for all of the unpermitted work that has taken place at the market.”
Earlier in the day, confusion reigned and anxious vendors awaited word about the status of the market, which is typically open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
“I’m very concerned, because this is my livelihood,” says Intissar Mirat, a vendor who says she earns $4,000 monthly selling Moroccan skin-care products at her stall. “For many of the vendors, this is their only job. Their families depend on this income.”
The city set up a flashing roadway sign on Taft Street Friday that said the market was closed due to an “unsafe structure,” as the two sides met to sort out the issues that prompted the closure of the fast-growing market.
Just after 3 p.m., Yellow Green Farmers Market general manager Mark Menagh sent an email to SouthFlorida.com saying, “The market will be open as usual this weekend. Please help us get the word out.”
On Friday morning, Storey said the market would be closed “for the upcoming weekend due to potential life-safety issues created by unpermitted work and fire-access issues.”
The market’s owners, the Lalo family, say the city acted hastily and that the market is safe and is properly permitted. Menagh said the market would show documents at the meeting to alleviate “most of the city’s concerns.” Electrical contractors were on the grounds Friday to address some issues.
The market issued a statement Friday that read, “YGFM calls on the city of Hollywood to allow YGFM to continue with its expansion and improvements without shutting down the market's operations.” It said a closure “will devastate hundreds of families who rely on YGFM as its primary income and thousands of visitors who have come to love the market.”
On Thursday, Menagh and Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said they were hopeful a shutdown could be averted. Levy said the market’s growth, including a new parking lot and temporary structures built on a parking lot near the market’s open warehouse, triggered a review by city building, code and fire officials.
“We all want the success of the market to continue,” Levy said Thursday night. “It has become Hollywood’s second biggest attraction after the beach. But as we are all aware, the market has grown rapidly in the last few months, and from time to time the city needs to review that growth to make sure it is safe and up to code.”
Menagh said city officials have been visiting the property to flag issues as the market has expanded. The market houses more than 360 vendors selling produce, crafts and prepared foods such as empanadas and barbecue.
City officials are concerned about potential electrical and fire hazards, along with traffic issues. The market recently purchased land for added parking north of the warehouse, and Menagh previously has said the market wants to build a parking garage on the site. Last month, the market instituted parking fees and installed automated gates around its lots.
Levy said a new traffic pattern to help with safety was instituted last week. After 10 a.m., all cars are supposed to enter the market from an entrance on Sheridan Street and exit on Taft Street.
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