Tucson's first public market

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- If you're looking for a new place to shop in the Old Pueblo, you might want to head to the west side.

Tucson's first public market opened up on West Congress Street bright and early Friday morning.

"It's overdue.  It's a nice area out here," said vendor Alf Taylor.

Vendors like Taylor spend part of Thursday setting up their goods for the grand opening of Mercado San Agustin.  With an open courtyard and commercial kitchen, the 15,000 square foot market will be home to 18 small Tucson Businesses.

"All of these are local companies that want to be here together, where the business can be self promoted and cross promoted," said developer Jerry Dixon.

Construction began on the market a couple of years ago and the artistic decor isn't the only main attraction.

The building itself is LEED certified, with a solar powered water and lighting system.

The entire operation is privately funded.

Organizers expect it to bring in about $400,000 in sales tax a year.

"We're excited to be here, we want to be connected to the downtown and this is the first commercial building we're going to be doing over here on the west side," said Dixon.

Vendors are especially excited about the potential for business once the modern street car gets built.  It's west side stop will be right in front of the market.

"This is a chance to show people on a different side of town and it's almost a Moroccan setting, it's a market place type, it's very good for my type of goods," said Taylor.

Organizers and vendors hope the Mercado is just the beginning of a flourishing west side that highlights Tucson's unique flavor.