Despite its grand reopening, 17th Street Farmers Market still an incomplete project

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The 17th Street Farmers Market celebrated its grand re-opening in November 2018 after years of renovations.

Next month, the 17th Street Farmers Market will host the city’s first ever “Second Saturdays” with live music, beer and a night market. There’s one big problem still: The market looks like an incomplete project.

Paul Keevil, a local business owner, has three business along the market and told 8News he’s fed up. 

“Finish the project, finish the project, it’s 99 percent done. All it does it takes a little bit to make it perfect,” said Keevil.

There are supposed to be benches and landscaping around the trees and fire pits. Instead, the market is a mess. There are tire marks on the white concrete from the ice rink, electrical wires hanging from the shed and parts of the sidewalk that are unfinished.  “We’re willing to work with anyone, but we just need people who are willing to work with us,” said David Napier, the president of the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association.

The city’s project development manager for the market admits the city ran out of money. They ran into infrastructure issues they didn’t account for and had to replace water and sewer lines. 

The city is now stuck looking for at least $80,000 to finish the project.

“We really need the place to look nice. Get somebody from the city to take charge of this project and get it finished,” said Napier.

8News reached out to the Enrichmond Foundation, the non-profit paid by the city to maintain the market, on Wednesday. The foundation said they’ve purchased a power washer and will clean the tire marks this week.

The non-profit also says they have volunteers to pay for decorative or ornamental grass and they will plant that around the trees on Saturday, April 13.  The Enrichmond Foundation, which is given $250,000 a year to maintain and run events in the market, have plans to bring in vendors to coincide with live bands for events. To some, this is seen as another concern for business owners.

Keevil told 8News it will hurt businesses near the market.

“We don’t need outside vendors and or beer trucks because we have everything right here, right now,” said Keevil. 

Mayor Levar Stoney says he understands the frustration of local business owners and he has not been happy with the pace of progress. Stoney also says he’s calling for a review of current management and operations of the market with a view toward being more responsive to the needs of those who do business.  

“This budget calls for management of the market to return to city staff in the coming fiscal year,” Mayor Stoney said. 

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.

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