SOUTH AUSTIN, TX — St. Elmo Public Market, an artisan food retail market project in South Austin, has begun construction with an opening set for spring 2019, officials said Friday while announcing the first signed tenants.
Initial tenants include Mignette, a new bakery/modern diner concept by Michael Fojtasek, a butcher shop and local produce store from Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler of Salt & Time, and the first retail location for Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company.
More tenants will be announced throughout the year, officials said.
The South Austin public market will be the city’s first true artisan food retail marketplace, a one-of-a-
kind highly curated destination for local foods, beverages, and restaurants, officials described. Located on the south side of Ben White Boulevard, bound by South Congress Avenue and St. Elmo Road, the public market will include an assortment of local food merchants, farms, a butcher, fishmonger, bakeries, a brewery, and restaurants offering grab-and-go and on-site dining options, according to a press advisory.
Local food will be showcased in an open-air space, St. Elmo Public Market officials said. Originally a 12.5-acre site that housed an Austin school bus factory, St. Elmo Public Market is inspired by spaces such as Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, Chelsea Market in New York, Pike Place Market in
Seattle, Borough Market in London, and the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, officials said.
In addition to the approximately 40,000-square-foot public market, the development project will include 108,000 square feet of creative office space, 385 apartment units, and a boutique hotel. "The team behind St. Elmo Public Market seeks to attract music, entertainment, media, technology, and related companies to the office space and build a creative industry mecca as well as an inspirational work environment," officials said.
The unique character of the offices will include natural lighting, tall ceilings, exposed duct work, open floor plans, and ample parking.
"After more than 4 years of planning, it is gratifying to finally get the public market portion of this project under construction," said Brandon Bolin, partner at Maker Bros., one of the site’s developers. "Our lead tenants are amazing and committed to a shared vision."
Bolin said he envisioned a space that is emblematic of the city itself: "We’re confident that when we open early next year the overall tenant mix at the market will be a true celebration of local Austin food and a great source of pride for this progressive food savvy community. My sincerest hope is that this market will become an integral part of the rich cultural fabric of Austin providing a neighborhood market for all of Austin and for the 24 million visitors every year to the city to enjoy. That’s been the vision from the beginning."
Maker Bros. and Fenix Global Investments are developing the project in conjunction with Carlin Company.
Officials said Carlin Company has notable experience creating transformative markets, such as Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, Oxbow Public Market in Napa Valley, Napa Farms Market at San Francisco International Airport, and The Oakville Grocery, in Oakville, CA. Lead architect on the public market is the local firm of Andersson Wise. Guerilla Suit is the marketing and branding firm behind the project.
Michael Fojtasek, executive chef and owner at both Mignette and Olamaie — a Southern food restaurant located at 1610 San Antonio St. named after his daughter — spoke highly of the Saint Elmo Public Market developers. Fojtasek is a James Beard finalist for "Best Chef Southwest," a 2015 James Beard Awards semifinalist for "Best New Restaurant," 2015 Food & WineMagazine "BestNew Chefs," and was featured as the second Best New Restaurant in Texas Monthly’s"Where To Eat Now" in 2015.
"Working with the team behind Saint Elmo Public Market has been a lesson in professionalism and community," Fojtasek said. "They have not only dined at Olamaie, but have also backed us by attending various charity events that we support. I frequented the Ferry Building and Oxbow Market when living in the bay area. I know that the market is going to be special."
Photo of Michael Fojtasek by Robert J. Lerma, used with permission
>>> Top image: Rendering of Saint Elmo as viewed from South Congress, used with permission