Speculation over the long-anticipated Christiansburg Marketplace shopping center reached new heights Thursday, when a lender in the project released a list of new tenants — only to have the developer in charge walk things back minutes later.
Of four businesses identified in a press release from Money360, just one is actually expected to sign a lease at the beginning of next month, developer Bromont Investments said in a statement. The others are not planning to come to the shopping center, which is in the middle of a major overhaul after years of mostly empty storefronts.
The statement did not identify which named tenant is likely sign a lease, but the possibilities are specialty grocer Earth Fare, Burlington, Ross and Old Navy.
Let the guessing game begin.
Both Ross and Old Navy already have locations across the street from the Marketplace. Earth Fare and Burlington both have sites in Roanoke, but would be new entrants for the New River Valley.
Money360 has since corrected the press release noting that it misidentified some tenants.
The back-and-forth comes as retail speculation has turned into a national pastime, with social media sleuths constantly on the hunt for clues about where they’ll be able to shop next.
Bromont has long said a specialty grocer would anchor the shopping center. When the developer released a rendering of the remodeled facades last year, Twitter users were quick to point out the resemblance one building showed to the Earth Fare location in Roanoke.
Plans filed with Christiansburg building officials don’t list any tenants, but show at least six storefronts labeled as restaurant spaces, four retail, a medical office and a fitness club.
More recent renderings show a Verizon logo on one building. Bromont founder Walt Rector eventually confirmed to WSLS Channel 10 that Verizon will be a tenant, according to a story the TV station published in April.
During an interview with The Roanoke Times, Rector also said that Harbor Freight, a tool store that’s already in the shopping center, will remain after the renovations.
Bromont has also teased an unnamed coffee shop, Mexican restaurant and “nationally known” fashion, home goods and sports retailers.
Besides the two confirmed tenants and the four possibilities raised Thursday, it remains to be seen what will fill out the shopping center that has been an eyesore at the center of the New River Valley’s retail corridor for more than a decade.
The previous owner sold the property in 2017, and Bromont and a group of local investors, along with funding from Money360, later said they planned to bring the center back to life.
In all, Bromont has said it expects to invest about $53 million in renovating the Marketplace.
Construction is underway now as the developer plans to reconfigure the property with new entrances, reconfigured buildings and fresh facades.
One of the first steps will be to construct a new building for the Arby’s at the front of the shopping center. The old restaurant will then be torn down to make room for a new entrance at Shoppers Way.
“Our goal is to turn the biggest empty parking lot in the region into a festive and contemporary open-air environment where the community can walk, see friends, and enjoy what retail centers used to bring to the community,” Rector previously said.