Sneak peek: Delray Beach Market will be largest in Florida | Photos

Rod Stafford Hagwood, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read

You don’t have to wait until April to see what the Delray Beach Market will look like.

The developers took the South Florida Sun Sentinel on a behind-the-scenes tour of the food hall, rapidly going up at 33 SE Third Ave., alongside the railroad tracks and just a block south of East Atlantic Avenue. For more information, go to DelrayBeachMarket.com.

When finished next month, Delray Beach Market will:

Have 27 vendors serving fast-casual fare such as pizza, deli sandwiches, fried chicken, seafood, ice cream, pastas, sushi, empanadas, charcuterie, burgers, bowls, baked goods, kebobs, plant-based dishes as well as Mexican, Indian, Hawaiian food.

Restaurants familiar to South Floridians with kiosks at Delray Beach Market include Lovelee Bakeshop and Ferdos Grill.

Stand five stories tall with 150,000 square feet of vendor spaces and entertainment/demonstration areas capable of handling 2,000 visitors a day.

Have a place where you can buy meat, fish and chicken to cook at home.

Include a 220-car, four-level enclosed parking garage.

Cost $60 million and bring around 200 jobs to the region.

“A lot of our vendors were mom and pops…that lost their businesses during COVID,” explains Jordana Jarjura, president and general counsel for Delray Beach-based Menin Development, which is developing the food hall. “So, this gives them the opportunity to reinvent themselves and be a block off of Atlantic Avenue and not pay Atlantic Avenue rents.”

Planning started in 2016, she said, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to “adjustments with interior design and expanding outdoor areas.”

The overall design of the Delray Beach Market will be “sort of a tropical modern look,” according to architect Jose Gonzalez. “We wanted to establish something unique to South Florida, that didn’t have an urban vibe like something you might see in Miami or Atlanta or New York, but something unique to Delray — very tropical, whimsical, fun.”

Fun yes, but with serious benefits, according to Jarjura.

“We are very lucky that we were allowed to stay open in Florida for construction during COVID,” she says. “That was a huge impact to our economy, our local economy, our statewide economy in terms of hundreds and hundreds of jobs during a very difficult economic period.”

Gonzalez says that his Miami-based firm, Gonzalez Architects, studied similar venues throughout the country and that Delray Beach Market is roughly twice as big as most food halls and is easily the largest in Florida. That expansive space informed the design aesthetic, he explains.

“The whole idea was that as you move through the space and come back the next week, you’ll say, ‘Hey, I saw things that I didn’t see the last time I was here.’ That’s the way we designed it: very colorful, very bright and happy. It’s not so much a theme, as it is a feeling. And the feeling is that you’re in Florida, you’re enjoying yourself.”

And the mezzanine is the heart of the food hub, in a matter of speaking.

“The mezzanine is basically a spot that during the day, if you’re at the market the idea is that you can come up and have a quieter place to sit down and maybe work on your laptop, have a drink, sit at the bar…and enjoy that,” says Gonzalez. “And then at night this space transforms into something a little bit more lounge-y. Also we’ve designed within the space the ability to have show kitchens where we can have celebrity chefs come in, we can have classes.”

But day to day, Jarjura says the emphasis is on the vendors.

“The only consistent thing we wanted was for the food to be memorable,” she says. “We looked at their personalities and their stories, the authenticity. When you get to meet them and hear their stories and how they learned to cook and where their recipes are from and their backgrounds, they are just an amazing group of people. That’s why I can’t wait for the food hall to open and everyone get to meet them one on one.”