Marketplace redevelopment may hinge on sign exception

Conceptual photos courtesy of Bromont Investments-
The developer for the former Marketplace Shopping Center in Christiansburg has released a proposed conceptual photo of the North Franklin Street entrance.

By Marty Gordon

Plans for the redevelopment of the Marketplace Shopping Center could hinge on approval of proposed signage that exceeds Christiansburg’s sign ordinance.

The project’s developer has asked for an variance that would allow a 70-ft. sign along North Franklin Street. The town’s planning commission has recommended the principal sign remain at a maximum of 35 feet.

Engineer Steve Semones, who is working on the project, said the problem for the sign at the main entrance lies in the grade of the property. “It is very hard to see the sign as motorists approach the shopping center, and visibility is very important to this property and its tenants. We would request a variance,” he told the city council Tuesday night.

Plans call for a Verizon cellular phone store to be located along North Franklin at a new signal light adjacent to the main signage. Developer Walt Rector told the council the sign cannot be seen over the Verizon building at the 35-foot maximum.

The North Franklin entrance of the Marketplace redevelopment will include flowers, other landscaping and a new stop light. Verizon Cellular has signed a contract to locate to the left of the main entrance. No names of other retailers have been released.

Three other identification signs are planned for three other entrances to the property. Again, Semones said they are all important to the tenants and the property.

The developer has also asked the city council to allow a variance on the height of a possible hotel to the rear of the parcel. A four-story building is proposed with a parking area beneath it and a “green roof” proposal.  In a separate matter, a request has also been made for a special use permit on the site to allow for special events and/or a farmer’s market area.

Semones said developers in no way plan for a farmer’s market on-site to replace the ones in Christiansburg or Blacksburg. “Instead, they want to have an option for an open-air market at times during the year that could include a Christmas market or activities by the local boy scouts,” he said.

Tuesday night, the city council did not take any action on any of the requests but is expected to vote on the matters at its next regular meeting.

Bromont Investments is a private real estate investment company owned by the Rector Family, focused on the acquisition, ground-up development, repositioning, and management of retail, class A offices, and mixed-use properties.

Walt Rector is Chairman and CEO of all Bromont’s entities and a managing member of Bromont’ssingle and multiple property limited liability companies or joint ventures.
With over 45 years of experience, Rector has engaged in numerous successful partnerships and ventures. In 1993, Rector founded Bromont, alongside his pursuit of other opportunities such as Division President of Koll Real Estate Group and a joint venture entity, Artemis Realty Group.

His track record includes the development of over two million square feet of Class A office space and 3.5 million square feet of retail space, and the redevelopment of retail portfolios in excess of 2.5 million square feet.

Shown is the redesigned “shop D” building at the Marketplace. Construction will start in early October, and the overall development has all but 4,000 square feet spoken for with tenants new to Christiansburg.

Tuesday, Bromont announced they had selected the Timmons Group to serve as the landscape architect. The developer said the landscape team led by Neal Beasley was selected because of its powerful main entrance design.

“Our North Franklin Street entrance will set a new standard for commercial retail centers throughout the MidAtlantic region,” said Rector.

Bromont has launched a Facebook page to keep local residents up to date on the progress of the project.