Businesses frustrated as 17th St. Farmers Market is delayed, again

Businesses frustrated as 17th St. Farmers Market is delayed, again
Source: NBC12

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More delays for the construction project over at the 17th Street Farmers Market.

The new pedestrian plaza with outside seating won't be finished until the end of summer. It was supposed to be done this spring.

City officials blame construction delays. Meantime, restaurants and shops that line the Farmers Market say they're taking a huge hit because of the construction and lack of spaces right on their store fronts.

The East End festival this weekend will not be impacted.

Planning for the revitalization of the 17th Street Market goes back to even before 2012.

"I'd be willing to swing a hammer myself," said David Napier with the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association.

There were hopes to have the new plaza done before the UCI World Cycling Race in September 2015 - obviously that didn't work out.

"They took down part of the market, and everything stopped again," said Napier.

Construction did not start in 2016 either. City officials say they had to re-package the entire project - including securing federal grant money - because initial bids from contractors came in too high.

Project managers also say getting permits to do all the work - including utilities - takes months. Meantime, patience was running thin.

"There's just not a coordinated effort or sense of urgency," said Napier. "The city needs to be able to give itself a permit to do something."

Finally, this past July, the market was blocked off and demoed. The ripped-up street will become an open-air plaza with trees, as well as cobblestones and even patio seating for restaurants.

Losing those parking spaces this past summer has been tough for restaurants and shops that line the block.

"Crushing businesses down here," said Napier.

City officials now say construction will not be finished until the end of the summer. It will no doubt be a long-awaited change from the vacant look of the market, now.

"It's my livelihood and the livelihood for all of these businesses," said Napier.

City officials say more parking spaces near the Main Street station next door will be opening up next year, as well.

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