By Marty Gordon
A recent conditional use request by developers of the Marketplace Shopping Center off North Franklin Street in Christiansburg has revealed several adjustments to the plan for the site. The CUP was filed on July 15 and shows a less populated 28-acres with only two major retail spots. As many as 24 smaller stores are included with two major anchors.
None of those possible occupants have been released, but developers have said they hope for a grocery store and a major retailer that is currently not located here or nearby.
Construction is already under way with the demolition of several buildings that will allow for two new access points including a signal light at the intersection of Shoppers Way. The project is being funded through an agreement with the Town of Christiansburg.
Developers say the improved access will be much safer and convenient for those visiting the shopping center.
Over the years, the Marketplace had mostly become a vast wasteland of empty buildings. The original design of the shopping center entailed a long row of buildings at the perimeter with a central parking lot. That all changes under the developer’s plans.
According to documents filed by the developer, all existing buildings are being renovated and refaced. A reconstructed stormwater collection center is being provided, a new Arby’s restaurant (which is currently visible along North Franklin) is be constructed to allow for relocation, new outparcels are proposed along the internal portion of Market Street to help break up the large parking lot, extensive new hardscaping and outdoor spaces are proposed with a variety of uses by commercial tenants an the general public (thus, the CUP request) and new pedestrian access is being provided throughout the site.
Also, the right turn only lane near Taco Bell, which has been a safety concern for several years, is being removed. Market Street, itself a street within the shopping center, is slated to be realigned to allow for better traffic flow. Truck traffic will be separated from the passenger traffic areas, and Blacksburg Transit will have additional bus stops internally to the site.
The Conditional Use Permit request, according to the developer, will allow flexibility for items like food trucks, community nights for movies, Virginia Tech events, non-profit activities, a farmer’s market, outdoor music and/or art shows or displays.
The proposal also includes a major green space area throughout the shopping center. An exact time frame for completion has not been set but the new access points could be finished by the end of this year.
There are no plans for residential usage, but the new conceptual drawings include a possible hotel in the 100-110 room range to be located to the west of the current parcel.