La Marketa opens to the community
On Sunday afternoon, La Marketa at the International Plaza made its long-awaited debut.
Hundreds of people weaved in and out of the outdoor marketplace, greeting friends as they purchased food and other items from vendors selling anything from fresh produce to jewelry.
The Latin-themed marketplace and event space is located on North Clinton Avenue, near St. Michael's church, the visual cornerstone to Rochester's largest Latinx community.
The plaza consists of two anchor vendors and has space for other small enterprises to set up shop. It's the first of many new developments in a neighborhood grounded with its people's culture.
Scranton Street resident Ronaldo Colon said he first heard about the project in the 1970s. At the time, Colon owned the gas station across the street. He says he took the talks about the project more seriously in the 1990s and made a hefty investment anticipating the foot traffic the new market would bring to his business.
"I invested over $400,000 to remodel the gas station," he said. "I had it for over 35 years, and nothing was ever done, so I gave up."
Colon walked away from his business, but he never gave up on his neighborhood. He's been living in the area since 1953. As a member of the Scrantom Street Block Club, Colon and other neighbors have been a part of the collaborative efforts to revive the deferred project.
"Recently, the residents really drove this new vision of creating a plaza in the middle of Clinton Avenue right across from St. Michael's Church," said City Councilmember Miguel Melendez.
Melendez said the goal was to bring people together to have economic activity and to celebrate culture.
In addition to being a place to embrace culture, La Marketa will also give residents a place to purchase fresh foods.
Nick Mendola, a vendor for Wilson's produce stand, said he was happy with Sunday's turnout and looks forward to vending next year.
"It's been going quite well," Mendola said Sunday. "I'm with Mike Wilson, and this is his first Sunday. He was looking forward to being here because the neighborhood needs produce."
La Marketa will be open for the next three Sundays before closing for the season on Nov. 1. However, visitors can patronize its anchor vendors, Borinquen Bakery and New Generation Meats, year-round.
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