$52 million farmers market is nearing final approval

The central government is about to shoulder $48 million in debt to build what amounts to an elaborate farmers market in Sardinal.

The full price of the project is $52 million with $4.55 million coming from local sources. The bulk of the money would come as a loan from the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica.

The legislature already has approved the plan on the initial reading. Only one more vote is needed. President Luis Guillermo Solís announced the project during his July tour of Guanacaste, but the price tag was not emphasized.

The idea is to collect vendors of fruit, vegetables, fish and other seafood products in one place so the estimated 399,000 Guanacaste-area residents do not have to drive too far for groceries.

The summary of the bill in the legislature also says that the project envisions gathering a number of the estimated 1,933 food merchants in the area as tenants of the new facility.

The debt will be that of the central government, which will have 20 years to pay it off with a three-year initial grace period, according to the bill, No. 19.662. The debt service would be about $5 million a year for most of this time.

By comparison, the cost of the project is nearly five times that of a proposed $11 million tower for the public works ministry proposed for downtown San José.

The market will be 50,855 square meters (655,156.2 square feet). One roofed area of  5,585.5 square meters (60,121.8 square feet) will house 36 storefronts of 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) each.

A second roofed area of 2,280.6 square meters (24,544.6 square feet) would have farmersmarket082515space for 16 businesses selling meats, basic grains and other products.

Also planned is a freezer section that would be 2,047.94 square meters (22,043.8 square feet) to house seven low-temperature operations.

The project also will have a 784.4-square meter (8,443.4-square foot) administrative area with space for banks, meetings and medical offices and an auditorium.

A slightly smaller second floor would hold offices, more meeting space and the administration of the market.

By comparison a National Football League field is 57,600 square feet, so the market will have space more than 11 times that of a regulation field.

The government also plans to promote the market via a strategic communications campaign. In addition to Guanacaste, the bill summary says that the cantons of Upala in Alajuela province and Paquera, Jicaral, Cóbano and Lepanto in the Nicoya peninsula would benefit from the market.

The summary describes a project that is much more than just a farmer’s market.  The project is designed to generate social and economic benefits to residents of the area and generate employment. At the very least, jobs will be created related to administering the market.

The project also seems to have a goal of generating more agricultural production in the Guanacaste area.

The summary does not address what impact the project would have on commercial rental space in Guanacaste or supermarkets there.

Sardinal is southeast of Playas del Coco on Ruta 151 and west of Liberia and the Daniel Oduber airport.

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