LYNN — Lynn, Lynn the city that’s in…is a favorite phrase from a man whose hands hold a promising future for the Cultural District in downtown.
Justin Morlee, known by artists as “Justice Born,” is the administrative coordinator of a food truck emporium that will descend on Mount Vernon Street on April 21. The emporium is part of IronBound Marketplace, an outdoor and indoor market, and is focused on art, entertainment, and food.
“Ideally we could see this being like another Faneuil Hall over time,” said Morlee, a Lynn native.
Morlee works for Francisco ‘Cisco’ Meneses, who’s run his business, the National Fire Escape Association, under the downtown bridge for a number of years. Morlee said Meneses has planned a larger vision for the area but hasn’t had much assistance to make it a reality.
That changed in December, when Lynn city granted IronBound a permit to host food trucks. Morlee was hired near the end of January along with Antoria Lee, the emporium’s food director. Their social media efforts have hit big and vendor requests are pouring in.
“There are eight food truck applications in and more in my inbox I haven’t opened yet as well as over 100 that have contacted us and requested business but we’re only allowed to have 10,” said Lee, a Boston native and Lynn resident. “So basically now it’s just deciding on which 10 to choose.”
Clint Muche, the city’s deputy building commissioner, praised the concept.
“It’s very consistent with plans for the downtown’s Cultural District,” he said. “The city’s position is very favorable.”
IronBound Marketplace, whose name comes from the nearby train tracks, has been a concept for more than a decade. But wasn’t officially a business until the beginning of February. The masterminds behind the new downtown hangout see the food truck emporium as a trial for a more permanent marketplace next year.
The plan is to start outside with the food trucks. Renting the indoor spaces will come a year later, according to the plan. Morlee said they won’t entertain applicants for the rental spaces unless they agree to work with the food trucks and other outdoor vendors.
Aside from the daily food trucks, IronBound hopes to host live entertainment at block parties one Saturday a month in April, May and June. They recently put a bid in for a more permanent entertainment license with plans to have full surveillance and police detail, even hoping to offer discounts to police officers working events, according to Morelee.
“We want there to be this sense of residents feeling like, ‘Oh hey, my block looks nice so don’t come around here with this violent or dangerous nonsense,'” said Lee, the food director. “Sometimes people misconstrue when things are being gentrified and where communities are just changing.”
Another vision from the IronBound crew is to collaborate with local nonprofits like Beyond Walls, Raw Arts, and Rock the Block. According to Morlee, another big goal of theirs is working with physical and mental health, revitalizing minds instead of just revitalizing downtown Lynn.
IronBound Marketplace is searching for vendors willing to sell their items, artists wanting to showcase their talents, organizers who specialize in events such as international festivals, concerts, and fashions shows. Applications can be filled out at IronBoundLynn.com
“My angle has been the same for years, bring the people together and bring them to life,” said Morlee.