This fall, the MKTplace at Goombay Plaza, a pop-up food and entertainment complex, will open in Coconut Grove on the corner of Grand Avenue and Douglas Road.
The project, created by the University of Miami School of Architecture, will use multiple 200-square-foot modified shipping containers to create a buzzy outdoor oasis offering an eclectic selection of prepared eats, including foods unique to the history of Coconut Grove’s Bahamian settlers.
With support from City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez, along with funding from the Knight Foundation, the MKTplace has a goal to create a welcoming public space, similar to the Wynwood Yard, in an otherwise empty lot.
"Through lighter, quicker, and cheaper interventions, the project activates a vacant area in an underserved neighborhood," says Charles Bohl, director of the UM School of Architecture. "It provides inexpensive incubator space and a venue for community events and everyday socializing. We are simply the facilitators for a process in which the people make the place.”
The MKTplace's land is owned by Grovites United to Survive, a group of residents with ties to the Grove's earliest Bahamian settlers. For years, the organization sought to create a public space like the MKTplace but could not secure enough funding. Now, through the project, the Grove's Caribbean influence will take center stage by offering a roster of Bahamian food and drinks inside several container spaces.
“This market is our best opportunity to reintroduce commerce in Coconut Grove with local entrepreneurs," Commissioner Suarez says. "It's a great first step for the community and future of the Grand Avenue corridor of the Grove."
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The market will launch as a weekly pop-up, which will take place every Friday for one month and slowly transition into something more regular. The pop-up phase will present a mix of 15 to 20 food vendors and will include communal eating and entertainment areas. About half will be permanent, and the others will rotate. Through the project, vendors and entrepreneurs will receive mentorship and training sessions.
A sneak peek into the market's offerings reveals a fried seafood concept, local Grove barbecue, fresh fruit juices and bowls, coffee, sandwiches, an Argentine grill, and Bahamian cuisine.
The Knight Foundation's support of the MKTplace is one of more than 100 investments made in the past two years toward entrepreneurship in South Florida. Bohl says there are enough funds to create at least one other market in Miami Dade-County. As of now, though, there are no details about where or when that may happen.
MKTplace at Goombay Plaza. 3685 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove; 305-608-9020; mktplacemiami.com. Vendor applications are open to the public. Apply via MKTplace's website.