a little more than a year ago I wrote about the sad demise of Company Shops Market, a grocery co-op that opened with great promise in May of 2011. The market was seen as an anchor for Burlington’s then-struggling downtown and a symbol of hope for a bright future filled with locally produced food and patrons.
It was not to be. This story offers the sad details.
Since then, people who monitor events in downtown Burlington have wondered what would become of the 12,000-square-foot building on Front Street beside Occasions. No one wants to see the old building stay empty for long and fall into the kind of decay and disrepair the old A&P grocer that preceded it did. As usual, there was a fair amount of speculation about it. This was especially true after other parts of Front Street began to flourish this year.
The big question was answered publicly on Friday night (June 28, 2019) during the Fourth Friday event at the Historic Depot downtown. Before the final band of the summer evening took the stage at 7:30, Jessica Pasion, executive director of the Burlington Downtown Corporation stepped up the microphone at the Depot amphitheater and introduced Wellsley Robinson, president of Core Properties. Watch the video below to hear what Robinson told the several hundred people in attendance.
I have to admit, I had never heard of a food hall until earlier tonight when Jessica told me about the looming announcement. From what I gather, food halls are an emerging use for old buildings often in downtown areas. It’s a food court, but not quite that simple. I told my wife it sounded like an indoor and permanent food truck rodeo. Food halls have sprouted in Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Orange County. A December 2018 article in Forbes magazine called food halls the new food trucks and predicted more of them in 2019.
Apparently, Burlington will be among the places getting one. The concept under development for the old Company Shops site features chef-prepared foods in different kiosks. There will be a cocktail bar and even an area where kids can play. I’m sure it’s more complicated with much more nuance than I’m providing here. I spoke to Robinson briefly on Friday and will do a longer interview with her this coming week and hopefully provide more details.
Core Properties has developed a lot of downtown sites, especially along Front Street. To learn more about the proposed food hall and other sites developed by Core Properties click here.
Robinson told the crowd at Fourth Friday to expect a fall opening. The announcement definitely generated a buzz. I look forward to hearing more about it.