Monday, September 5, 2011

Crowds pour into renovated City Market Building

The ribbon is cut at opening of Roanoke's renovated "living room."

The grand opening of the City Market Building was a little short of vendors Saturday but that didn’t keep the crowds from squeezing through the door as soon as Mayor Bowers cut the ribbon to the front door of Roanoke’s “living room.”

There was a push to get in quickly as both anxious Roanokers and media wanted in first. It was also much cooler inside after spending 20 minutes in the hot sun listening to the accolades bestowed on those responsible for the completion of the renovations in just under a year.

The noise of the crowd echoed off the sterile surrounding floors and walls. Cory Campbell was hitting a lick on his guitar.

All Sport Café was the only vendor ready to serve hot food. The first thing Mayor Bowers did was order “The Magician Burger” from All Sports Cafe as he had promised on stage during his grand opening speech.

It wasn’t a Chico’s Big Lick Pizza. Bowers’ infamous words of years ago are still remembered today, “if Chico’s happy, I’m happy” he declared of the vendor now long gone. “The Magician Burger” had relevance to Bowers as he harkened back to when Roanoke was dubbed “the Magic City.” Saturday Bowers seemed happy enough.

Cre Mitchell Creasy works his counter at The Dancing Chicken

The Dancing Chicken though leasing one of the center stalls had two full stalls of produce for opening day. Entrepreneur Cre Mitchell Creasy said that though he was on a month to month lease his plan was to sign at least a years lease. He was also seriously thinking about leasing both stalls. Creasy had fresh eggs that he gets from farms in Bedford and Botetourt County and Homestead Creamery milk and ice cream.

Other vendors like Euro Bakery and Firefly Fare were handing out samples to lines of customers. Firefly Fare’s menu is chock full of healthy food like Fiesta Greens, Teriyaki Tofu Bowl. Quinoa Hoppin’ Johnny and fresh juices like the Firefly Flicker.

Hong Kong Restaurant and New York Subs are the only two original vendors that took advantage of the $35,000 incentive to return. Habana Café and Queso Southwestern Grill will join them too.

Cheryl Foster, the Maryland artist designed each of the commercial porcelain glazed tile mosaics at each of the Market Building’s four entrances. She held a mosaic workshop for the day..

Jackson presents Market replica to Foster

Roanoke Arts Commission member Douglas Jackson said, “it was clear from the start that she wanted to become part of this community … as she leaves Roanoke she will be leaving a part of herself here and we would like to send a part of Roanoke with her.” With that Jackson presented Foster with a sterling replica of the “Roanoke newly reborn historic Market Building.”

Melissa Ryder Henry twirled hoops outside on Market Street and Katherine Devine painted four year-old Hailey Bostwick’s face. Hailey was visiting from Charlotte and wasn’t shy about showing off her butterfly-looking face. The Dirt Road Travelers band played in Market Square.

The Market Foundation board was recognized starting with Chairman Doug Waters who helped cut the ribbon. Other members included Larry Davidson, Sherman Stovall, Stephen Lemon, Phil Davis, Beth Deel and Gordon Hancock.

Last October the Market Building transferred out of the city’s control after five years of management. The 40-year agreement with Market Building Partners LP sets out the terms to perform the renovation and operation of the City Market building for the consideration of one-dollar a year.

Cunningham Quill Architects of Washington, D.C. designed the remodeling and MB Contractors of Roanoke performed the construction.

The $7.9 million rehab is eligible for state and federal tax credits through the Market Building Foundation. Responsibilities for management will include staffing, accounting, cleaning, custodial, security and routine maintenance. The agreement even details light bulb changing, snow and graffiti removal, and touchup painting.

Rent was slated to run from $37.65 to $49.95 a square foot depending on location and is all-inclusive compared to when the city leased the building. The cost per square foot was inconsistent with the city and ranged from $33.45 to $51.66 and did not include common area maintenance.

The third floor, “Charter Hall has carpet inserts over wooden dance floors for protection and noise mitigation. It will be open to the public with a capacity of 300 seated and 500 standing. Base rental was set at $125 to $150 per hour depending on the day of the week.

It came in “on time and on budget,” said Bowers.

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Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business, Community, Local Events


Comments (2)

Jack Mcguire

September 5th, 2011 at 8:03 AM    

Wow, 8 mill doesn’t get you much when the City is involved. The old brick walls appear to be crumbling. As someone who remodels for a living, it is a big dissapointment.


September 5th, 2011 at 6:47 PM    

Give it a chance Jack. The renovation was not all cosmetic. Plumbing, electrical, heating and air, etc.

The walls are original and meant to be that way along with the original ceiling.

Give it a month or two as more vendors open up. It could use some greenery to cut the hard sterile look and the noise echo.

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