CHRISTIANSBURG — The owner of the Marketplace shopping center is requesting a permit for a farmers market, according to town documents.
Developer Walt Rector took over the site — across North Franklin Street from the New River Valley Mall — and is in the midst of giving the property a significant overhaul.
The Marketplace’s request has no affiliation with the farmers market the town of Christiansburg has operated since 2015 on Hickok Street, town officials said this past week.
“We kind of had a conversation with the Marketplace people, and they’re not trying to compete with us or diminish anything we’re trying to do,” Mayor Mike Barber said. “Their goal is to bring people in.”
A farmers market is under the “potential temporary uses” that the Marketplace included in an application for a planned commercial development, town spokeswoman Melissa Demmitt said.
A farmers market, however, requires a conditional use permit in the town’s general business district — or the zone that the Marketplace is located in.
“For that reason, we called the farmers’ market out separately and advertised it as a conditional use permit,” Demmitt wrote in an email. “The Marketplace’s main intention is to find ways to activate their proposed open spaces and outdoor gathering areas, and the temporary uses they listed are potential ideas. They do not intend to duplicate or diminish the town’s efforts.”
Other potential temporary uses the Marketplace included with its application are special events serving food or beverages; food trucks; community events such as movie nights; Virginia Tech events; outdoor music; and art shows.
“Our goal with the Marketplace redevelopment is to create a place where people visit for more than shopping — also for gathering and meeting friends,” Rector wrote. “We are creating possibilities. As such, we have applied for a conditional use permit under Christiansburg’s farmers’ market ordinance in order to create opportunities for seasonal pop-up shops and special gatherings.”
Rector, who’s redeveloping the Marketplace under Bromont Investments, said his team isn’t planning a “regular” farmers market as they are not focusing on fresh produce and food supplies. He reiterated that they are not competing with the town’s farmers market.
The Christiansburg Farmers’ Market is a seasonal operation that runs every Thursday from May to October.
The town’s function usually has 10-14 vendors each week.
The town’s market launched in 2015 with about a dozen vendors, and the numbers have remained consistent since, Demmitt said.
Town council has scheduled a Sept. 10 public hearing on the farmers market permit request from the Marketplace.
Two farmers markets have existed in Blacksburg for several years: the decades-old Blacksburg Farmers Market and the Community Farmers Market of Blacksburg, which launched in 2013.
The Blacksburg Farmers Market is a town-affiliated function that operates in downtown’s Market Square Park.
The Community Farmers Market operates in a shopping center lot on South Main Street. Its launch triggered a local debate over farmers market regulations and raised some competition concerns.