Christiansburg – Christiansburg leaders have been vocal for the past few years on empty buildings at the Marketplace Shopping Center on North Franklin Street and the eyesore it has created in the heart of the town’s retail area.
Tuesday night, town council approved a $1.3 million incentive package for the shopping center’s new owners that will provide a shot in the arm for future economic growth at the site.
Mayor Mike Barber feels the investment and the planned changes coming to the shopping area is one of the best things to happen in Christiansburg in the last 20 years.
“It’s taking a blighted property and giving it new life,” he said.
Those improvements will include a new signal light and a secondary public access along with new storm water infrastructure to facilitate KR Christiansburg LLC’s redevelopment plans.
The shopping center has mainly been a desert-waste land for nearly 17 years as Goody’s and a Books-A-Million vacated the site. Initially Walmart had opened there but closed its doors when a new one was built on the other side of North Franklin Street.
Barber has said several times stating that something needed to be done at the site.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone—the town, its residents and the developer. It makes the property more viable for everyone involved, and is money well spent on something that has been needed,” he said.
The signal light will stretch from Shopper’s Way into the Marketplace Shopping Place, and the current Arby’s restaurant will have to be relocated because of the new traffic pattern. The secondary entrance will require the demolishment of several buildings to the rear of the site and will allow access from Peppers Ferry Road.
The development group will now move forward with the purchase of the property in the spring of 2018, making everything official.
John Rector, the group’s representative, said KR will then begin engineering work along with survey and design of specific plans. The goal is to begin construction in the summer of 2018 with an estimated completion in two years.
“We look forward to bringing this property back to life and expect to have at least a 65 percent occupancy rate by next year, up from 10 percent today,” he said.
KR Christiansburg plans to invest $30 million into the renovation of the Marketplace to revamp the architecture and building facades, as well as to build new parking lots, complete interior work and possibly add new standalone buildings.
The conceptual drawing shows the location of several out parcels for small retailers and restaurants within the Marketplace Shopping Center, and the complete renovation of existing facades.
The project is the next venture for the group that has been involved in about 48 shopping centers and shopping center renovations across the country.