Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Roanoke City Market Building

In late May, I went downtown for a brief visit. I don't like downtown Roanoke and go there infrequently. This was my first trip to the city's center in years.

My friend and I went to the City Market Building to eat lunch. The building was renovated in 2011 at a cost of $7.9 million.

Somebody needs to ask for their money back.

This exterior sidewalk art was the nicest and coolest thing about the redesign.

Inside, the open space was, well, big. It was also depressing, uninspiring, and dark. The City Market Building back in the late 1980s (and I suppose up until the renovation) was a strange-looking place, with lots of neon signs, but it at least had character and visual interest.

This has no character. This is like a big warehouse with eateries in it.

It is not a place I would want to spend much time. Actually, I doubt I ever go back in there again if I can help it.

What a shame the city spent so much money to accomplish so little. As I understand it, the firm that renovated the building was not from the area; I hope they aren't using this building as one of their prize projects in their portfolio.

The Roanoke City Market district area is the oldest continuous farmer's market in Virginia. It began in 1882 and this building played a big role in that history.

While I am glad they didn't tear down the historic structure, I think the city residents got a raw deal in this redesign. The whole thing was poorly done from the get-go, what with the building being closed for a long time so that the small restaurants that had been there for years had to close or relocate.

We were down there at mid-day and the place should have been so crowded you could hardly walk, but as the pictures show that was not the case.

Except for the interesting exterior sidewalk art, I give this project a big fail.

Dan Smith over on his blog posted about the Market Building's kiosk in May 2012, which was removed. He called the newly designed Market Building "a building without life" and I have to agree. Somebody please go in there and save this space!



  1. I haven't been to the city market for a couple of years, and—after seeing pictures—have no desire to go. The once-vibrant place I remember from my childhood no longer exists.

  2. This sounds like a global problem. Bolton Market Place was regarded as one of the best in the country. Then the Council renovated the building and turned it into the spitting image of yours. Corporate pomp trumps local character time and again.

  3. You made a great accomplishment, you found a parking place in Roanoke! Some day the truth will come out that the low income tax payers of Roanoke are fronting the bill for a nice play ground for the rich people buying condos in downtown. Every project removes a few more parking places, they don't want us down there, it is an exclusive area for special people. If they could only get rid of the homeless, dang that rescue mission.

  4. Sad that this happened. From your pictures it looks like there is just not much in this space.

  5. I totally's got no soul.

  6. That's too bad they spent so much money and it's a fail. Warehouse redesigns are very popular here and they usually do some pretty cool things with the spaces.


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