City Market Vendors Air Concerns Over Proposed Relocation Plans

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City Market is currently held in the Water Street Garage City Market is currently held in the Water Street Garage
Michael Clark has been a vendor at the market for over 30 years Michael Clark has been a vendor at the market for over 30 years
Clark owns Planet Earth Diversified Clark owns Planet Earth Diversified

Not everyone is excited about a big new development that’s set to come to Charlottesville.

Vendors are airing some of their concerns pertaining to the design for City Market, which is currently intended to go inside of West2nd after it's completed. Plans for West2nd started back in 2014, and new questions are still popping up after multiple delays, new design plans, and a lot of money spent.

Farm-to-table is what Charlottesville City Market is all about, but some vendors say that moving it inside of West2nd would hinder that ambition.

“All of the entrepreneurs being able to pitch their pie business or bakery, or gluten-free products, things that would be so hard to get a business started are very easily accessible to anyone at the market,” says Michael Clark, the owner of Planet Earth Diversified.

Clark has a farm in Greene County and has been a vendor at the market for over 30 years.

With City Council’s approval, City Market will be relocated from the Water Street Garage to inside of West2nd. While some farmers are worried about this move and their ability to get all their products into a building, the lead developers say they shouldn’t worry because the design calls for multiple entrances for vendors.

“Two off of South Street, two off of Second Street, two from the parking area, from the parking deck, and then also one from the grand entrance off of Water Street,” says Keith Woodard, the lead developer.

Back in 2014, the city submitted a request for proposal to developers asking for a more permanent location for City Market to be held.

Clark says he is not upset with Woodard, but says his design team does not understand the complexity of the market. Clark says the new design would require every vendor to have a refrigeration truck.

“From eggs to lettuce, and it’s going to get more difficult in the future,” says Clark. “So it won’t be just a few big refrigerated trucks, everybody will have to have active refrigeration and they are really missing that.”

In West2nd's most recent special-use permit request to City Council, Woodard requested that a 10th floor be added to the building.

"The project includes retail and office and residential, and we're very encouraged,” says Woodard.

The plaza has space for about 76 vendors outside, and 20-30 vendors inside. The space will also have access to restrooms and electricity, which is something the current market does not have.

But still, farmers like Clark say maybe it's time the city invests where the market already stands rather than trying to construct a new home for it.

“I think if the City Council really looked at that, it would suddenly see this phenomenal value and maybe even think that the city could continue to own that lot and should make it a public facility,” says Clark.

Charlottesville Parks and Recreation has endorsed Woodard’s final plan.

The West2nd special-use permit is slated to be on City Council’s agenda for its meeting on Monday, March 19. If it does not get approved, the City Market would move from where it is now to the lot across the street that is on a slight hill.

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