The New Southern Market: FAQs & ASSETS’ Vision for our Future Home

ASSETS’ Home Base—A Catalyst for Transformation

For the past 8 years, the historic Southern Market has been home to ASSETS. Southern Market sits at the fulcrum between the thriving economy of the downtown and the often overlooked communities to the south. This building has given ASSETS the physical space to grow and the ability to connect with the entire community surrounding it. It has also been a landmark in the community since 1888 and has been a food market and a business center over time.

In 2019, Lancaster Equity purchased Southern Market with the vision of reigniting the building’s role as a community catalyst that celebrates the city’s diversity and supports local entrepreneurs. Willow Valley Communities was brought on as a partner to manage the construction and daily operations of the building. Once the renovation is complete, Southern Market will contain a food hall, retail shops, and a community event space. It will also continue to be ASSETS’ home.

Read on to explore ASSETS’ Southern Market FAQs—and check out our #GatherAtSouthern video below.


Some of ASSETS’ staff and board tour through Southern Market’s construction site

Southern Market Frequently Asked Questions


Question 1

What is Southern Market?

Built as a farmers market in 1888, Lancaster’s iconic Southern Market will once again bring people together over food—and so much more!

Opening in January 2022, its centerpiece will be a modern, world-class food hall for the entire community to enjoy: an incubator for restaurant start-ups and a full-on celebration of Lancaster’s culinary diversity. 

The new Southern Market will also feature a central bar and coffee shop, coworking desks and offices, meeting spaces, retail, and community rooms. It will also contain the office spaces of community non-profits, ASSETS and Lancaster Equity Community Development Corporation. For locals and visitors alike, Southern Market will become Lancaster’s new favorite place to eat, work, and gather—an exciting destination for culture and collaboration. 

Southern Market will be a catalyst for community connection, economic growth, and urban revitalization.

The ASSETS Team jumps for joy in the future food hall
Question 2

What is ASSETS’ role in the new Southern Market?

ASSETS is a non-profit focused on transforming the community through business. We occupy one seat of the 20-member board of Lancaster Equity, the entity that owns Southern Market. ASSETS votes, along with the other members of the board, on matters related to Southern Market. In addition, ASSETS holds permanent office space in Southern Market, renting from Willow Valley Communities, holder of the Master Lease.

Lastly, ASSETS is partnering with Lancaster Equity and Willow Valley Communities to ensure that the Southern Market food hall reflects and supports the community that surrounds it while living out our mission of offering business training, financing, and consulting to Lancaster’s diverse business community—especially women and people of color.

To read more about these key partners as well as their roles and responsibilities, scroll to the bottom of the FAQs.

1st floor community meeting rooms let in lots of natural sunlight and offer catering options from Southern Market’s food hall vendors
Question 3

What is the Southern Market food hall and how is ASSETS involved?

The centerpiece of the new Southern Market is a world-class food hall featuring regional and international cuisine from 10 up-and-coming local chefs. It will include a bar, spacious community rooms for hosting events, a coffee shop, retail space, a small stage for live entertainment, and 175-person seating for eating, networking, and gatherings.

ASSETS is partnering with Lancaster Equity and Willow Valley Communities to select diverse food vendors to ensure that the Southern Market food hall reflects and supports the community that surrounds it. ASSETS is not running or managing the food hall.

Instead, ASSETS is supporting the process by launching an innovative Food Lab Incubator that will support a growing roster of small culinary startups and provide training to those interested in becoming a food hall vendor. This Incubator, designed for all types of food-based businesses, will provide industry-specific training and connections with area suppliers and distributors. It will initially focus on the Southern Market food hall vendors, but will eventually grow to include other food-based entrepreneurs who need ASSETS’ support. ASSETS’ business training center will educate and prepare local, budding entrepreneurs to build skills in hospitality businesses.

Walking through the build-out of the food stalls which will be custom fit with options like stovetops and refrigerated displays based upon the needs of the chefs
Question 4

I am a chef or a food-based business owner and I’m interested in learning more about the food hall. Who should I contact?

Entrepreneurs interested in becoming a Food Hall vendor should first complete the Southern Market Inquiry Form and mark themselves as “interested in participating as a food hall chef.” Someone from the selection team will follow up with next steps.

Interested vendors are highly encouraged to participate in ASSETS’ business training programs and consider a business-building loan, if needed.

ASSETS’ Impact & Analytics Manager Andres Zorilla visualizes how fun—and equally dangerous for our waistlines—it’ll be to work in the same building as the food hall
Question 5

Why does ASSETS believe in this project?

When ASSETS moved into the Southern Market building in 2013, we knew that the location of the building was integral to our work. Southern Market sits at the fulcrum between the economically-thriving Downtown Lancaster corridor and the often underrepresented communities of color to the south. ASSETS believes that Southern Market can serve as a zipper between these communities because of our presence within it—through the innovative work of our diverse and inclusive entrepreneurs, our belief in and love for Lancaster’s Southeast, and our mission to build an equitable and prosperous economy that works for everyone. ASSETS made a very intentional choice to work within Southern Market for the eight years prior to its renovation because we believed deeply that this building could help to create equitable economic growth in the community. ASSETS’ role and mission will continue to play out best in this space.

The A-Team posing in front of the 2nd-floor entrance to ASSETS’ future office. We CANNOT wait to move into our new Southern Market home
Question 6

How does ASSETS know that the new Southern Market won’t harm the Southeast community and what safeguards is ASSETS taking to prevent it?

Unfortunately, there is never complete certainty that a project will avoid unforeseen harm. However, ASSETS believes that Southern Market is a story of restoration and revitalization—for all. This project is rehabilitating an all-but-abandoned historic building in an underserved area in order to revitalize the neighborhood economy through a representative marketplace and community hub. The mission-driven partnership is committed to the positive impact and transformation of the Queen and Vine intersection. 

As we design our office, select food hall tenants, and create the new Food Lab Incubator, ASSETS is completely focused on the vision of an equitable, ethical and prosperous economy that works for everyone. ASSETS is laser-focused on the selection of food hall vendors that reflect the community around Southern Market—specifically focusing on potential entrepreneurs who are women and people of color. And, ASSETS is designing our food-industry programming based on the needs we discovered while learning from person-of-color-owned businesses in Lancaster County.

ASSETS is taking steps, as always, to ensure that our portion of the Southern Market project reflects our commitment to equitable economic justice.

ASSETS staff gather in our future office space, exploring where our Entrepreneur Training and Community Lending departments will work from
Question 7

What, specifically, is ASSETS fundraising for within the Southern Market Project?

Though Willow Valley Communities is financing and developing the construction of the building, ASSETS is responsible for costs related to the build-out and furnishing of our office space as well as expenses related to running new programming for food-based businesses. Specifically: 

  1. Build-out costs for ASSETS office, as needed for any space that is leased, like data and electric, doors and walls, plumbing and storage.
  2. New furnishings and finishes to complete the new office space like desks and chairs, conference tables, lobby furniture, and window treatments. 
  3. Initial start-up costs for the Food Lab Incubator, which will initially focus on the Southern Market food hall and eventually grow to include other food-based entrepreneurs. 

If you’re interested in partnering with ASSETS on our Capital Campaign or learning more, please contact: Jobany Bedoya, ASSETS Development Director: jobany@assetspa.org | 717.393.6089 ext 237.

ASSETS CEO Tina Campbell enjoys the company of her board and team as we dream about the space
Staff try to envision what will be our large conference room and training center
Question 8

Who are the key partners involved in the revitalized Southern Market and what are their roles and responsibilities?

Lancaster Equity Community Development Corporation owns Southern Market and has signed a full “Master Lease” with Willow Valley Communities. LECDC is a non-profit macro-collaborative community development corporation and is believed to be the first of its kind. LECDC’s board is comprised of representatives from a variety of organizations, including ASSETS, that do community and economic development work in Lancaster. The board is “committed to contributing to a Lancaster where housing is affordable, where economic development includes everyone, and where neighbors, regardless of their skin color, are safe, respected, and treated with dignity.” LECDC will help ensure that Southern Market vendors reflect the cultures and flavors of the surrounding neighborhood.

Willow Valley Communities holds the Master Lease for Southern Market, oversees the development, construction, and daily operations of the building—including hiring, training, event rentals, office and retail leases. It will also manage and operate the common areas, food stall rentals, and food hall bar. To schedule a tour or submit questions related to construction, hiring, co-working space, rentals, and operations, visit the Southern Market Center website or contact Southern Market’s General Manager, Mary Ellen Davis: 717-368-9290 | medavis@southernmarketlancaster.com

ASSETS is a non-profit focused on transforming the community through business. We occupy one seat of the 20-member board of Lancaster Equity, the entity that owns Southern Market. ASSETS votes, along with the other members of the board, on matters related to Southern Market. In addition, ASSETS holds permanent office space in Southern Market, renting from Willow Valley Communities, holder of the Master Lease. Lastly, ASSETS is partnering with Lancaster Equity and Willow Valley Communities to ensure that the Southern Market food hall reflects and supports the community that surrounds it while living out its mission of offering business training, financing, and consulting to Lancaster’s diverse business community—especially women and people of color.

ASSETS’ Marketing Team explores the sitting area of their future office space

Want to help us spread the word?

Download a PDF of ASSETS’ Southern Market FAQs