PORTLAND A plan to develop some prime downtown land into a year-round public market is very close to becoming reality, according toMultnomah County commissioner Jeff Cogen.

He said the county has a tentative agreement to sell property at the west end of the Morrison Bridge for $10 million.

If the agreement gets signed with Portland developer Melvin Mark, the waterfront location would become home to the James Beard Public Market.

The namesake, James Beard, is a Portland native and the city s most famous culinary icon.

We already have people coming here for culinary reasons; they re coming for the restaurants, farmers markets, and for the wineries. A public market would really give us one place to showcase all the culinary offerings, said Megan Conway of Travel Portland.

Plans were already drawn up to create a covered, open air market which would specialize in Portland food and beverages. The three-block area would become home to more than 100 permanent vendors, a full service restaurant and other features, akin to Seattle s Pike Place Market.

As tourists we think it would be great... something new to see and close to the hotel, said Brazilian visitor Manoela Giacomini.

Cogen, the county chair, said it was time to sell the property, as a way to raise revenue, create jobs, add tax revenue while also revitalizing downtown Portland.

The plan would also call for a 17-story office building.

A deal may be signed by the end of April, and if all goes as planned, the market would open in 2016.

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