Saturday, April 18, 2009

Will The Market Building Tenants Be Comfortable?

Roanoke City Market Building

Roanoke City Market Building

Immediately following Monday’s 2:00 PM Council meeting Cunningham Quill Architects of Washington, D.C will present at least two renderings and cost projections for renovation of Roanoke City’s much debated Market Building.

Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea said at the February 2 Council meeting that he wanted the vendors “to feel comfortable” with the plans.

Councilman David Trinkle reiterated his support for balcony seating on the mezzanine.

Councilman Court Rosen did not want a scaled down vision for the building with minimal resources just to “do it.”

Chico’s Eric Estrada has left the building and other vendors are giving their businesses future at the Market Building some serious thought. There still remains the outstanding lawsuit threat by the vendors. There was a promise by Rosen on Craig Wright’s In the News that the City will help the vendors move – opening a Pandora’s box.

Last but not least the Market Building is not on the CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) list which means funding for any Market Building improvements has not been identified.

The February Financial report that will be presented by the Director of Finance on Monday states that “building maintenance charges grew primarily due to required maintenance of the City Market Building” – $253,000 were related to the “fall cleaning” during the Market building shutdown in September, 2008.

After the “fall cleanup” had begun with the City’s assistance (contractors called in) there was uneasiness on the part of City administration. The City Manager, Darlene Burcham had knowledge that some of the vendors had expectations the cost for repairs would be born by the City. Burcham then instructed staff to present the vendors with a document to sign if they wanted the work to continue on their stalls. On September 26, 2008, staff presented the tenants with a document for vendors to sign that read in whole, “I authorize the City of Roanoke to complete repairs to my leased premises. I understand the repairs will be charged according to the provision of the lease.” Most vendors signed with hand written comments like “I am signing under duress” and “there was no estimate.” Perhaps it is in the City’s best interest to swallow the $253,000. The whole Market issue has turned into a “perception” that the City is “strong-arming” the vendors. With as long as it takes the City to make a decision I doubt offering the vendors a one year lease versus a month-to-month would  have made any difference. It would have made the vendors more “comfortable.” So we are back to Vice-Mayor Lea’s comment “make the vendors feel comfortable.”

The question is now – is it too late?

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary, Finance, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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