Town officials are considering waiving sign height rules for the ongoing redevelopment of the Christiansburg Marketplace.
Bromont Investments, the developer behind the revamping of the struggling shopping center on North Franklin Street is seeking a conditional use permit for an entrance sign that would significantly exceed the 35-foot height limit for that business district.
The redevelopment team has said a major tenant requires a 70-foot-tall sign at the shopping center’s entrance. That tenant is expected to be an upscale natural food grocery store, according to a news release from Uncork-It, Inc., the Marketplace’s marketing firm.
Walt Rector, who leads the redevelopment team, told Christiansburg Town Council this week that the exceptional sign height is necessary for visibility, especially for drivers on North Franklin’s southbound lanes.
“I think one of the critical things is we’re disadvantaged by the location of this main entrance from the standpoint of where we would put this sign,” Rector said. “And with the Verizon building right there at the main entrance … you can’t see [the sign] if it’s not at 70 feet.”
The conditional use permit would also cover the possible construction of a 70-foot hotel, which would require a setback exception on one of its four sides.
The Marketplace is located directly opposite one of the town's other major commercial retail developments, which includes the New River Valley Mall, Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, Panera Bread and a number of other major stores.
Some council members voiced concerns about the entrance sign.
“I think there’s more talk to be done,” Councilman Steve Huppert said Wednesday. “It’s a high sign. Before it’s all over with, I think we’re going to make some sort of compromise. We want to give the Marketplace all the support we can, but we don’t want to make Christiansburg Las Vegas.”
Besides council members and the developer, no one spoke at a public hearing on the request held Tuesday.
The Marketplace will keep current tenants Harbor Freight and Arby's, which will be relocated to accommodate the new entrance. An occasional farmer's market has been discussed, and Rector previously announced Verizon as a future tenant.
Earlier this year, Bromont listed other potential tenants as health foods supermarket Earth Fare or clothiers Burlington, Ross Dress for Less or Old Navy. Ross and Old Navy currently have stores in other Christiansburg retail centers.