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The City of Richmond Will Take Over 17th Street Market After Complaints

The 17th Street Market in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom neighborhood reopened last November, but some parts of the market remain unfinished.
The 17th Street Market in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom neighborhood reopened last November, but some parts of the market remain unfinished.

The City of Richmond is taking back control of the 17th Street Farmers Market in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood.

The market has been managed by the non-profit Enrichmond since 2016. Legacy vendors, who have been serving produce and other goods there for decades, have complained that Enrichmond was slow to bring them back. Only a few have returned since the 17th Street Market reopened last November.

Timothy Christian, who runs the Christian’s Produce stand, said he was just allowed to return two weeks ago.

“I would have thought it would have been automatic for them to ask us to come back or try to get us back on,” he said. “They pushed us out and it didn’t seem like they wanted us back on the market.”

Christian’s family has been selling produce at the market for nearly 50 years. He said legacy vendors are only asking for respect as new events and vendors are brought in.

“We belong on the market,” he said. “This is where it all started, with the small vendors. You can’t rebuild it by taking away what started it.”

The 17th Street Market is one of the oldest open-air markets in the country. It has been a center of commerce for more than 275 years, according to Enrichmond. It closed for construction in 2017, but some parts of the market remain unfinished. Last month, owners of the surrounding bars and restaurants complained about exposed wiring and unfinished facades at the market. They also told WRIC that  their business would be hurt by Enrichmond’s plans to bring in outside beer vendors during concerts.

“We don't need outside vendors or beer trucks because we have everything right here, right now," said Paul Keevil, who owns three businesses on the market.

Enrichmond’s Executive Director, John Syndor, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a newsletter sent out to subscribers on Friday morning, Syndor said Enrichmond was proud of its work on the market's relaunch.

"We will watch from the sidelines as the next chapter begins with the City and Legacy Vendors leading the charge," he said. "We can’t wait to see what is next for this special space."

A spokesperson for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the management takeover was part of the proposed budget the mayor presented earlier this year. The city expects to start managing the 17th Street Market sometime after July 1.

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