Tuesday, January 25, 2022

It may be run-down, but something’s afoot at that shopping center on Richmond Road

The shopping center in which Sears is located is not well-maintained. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
The shopping center in which Sears was located is not well-maintained. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

An outdoor flea market may breathe new life into a run-down shopping center on Richmond Road.

Across the street from the Williamsburg Pottery is a nearly-empty parking lot attached to a mostly-vacant shopping center.

The unused parking spaces will soon host folding tables covered in items like gently used furniture, coins, jewelry and snacks as part of an outdoor flea market.

The James City County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday in favor of approving a Special Use Permit to allow for a flea market to set-up on the property each weekend.

“There are four or five people who rely on this for part of their income,” applicant Neal Jones said. “I’m so glad they approved this.”

Jones said he expect the flea market to open some time this fall, but has not picked a date yet.

One of the conditions of the permit requires the applicant to make improvements to landscaping, which Jones said could take a few weeks.

The flea market had operated for 19 years in front of the Brass Shop in Norge, Jones said. He and his son Chris have been looking for a new location since the spring.

“Why do we need a flea market?” Millie Webb said before the board. “Among other things it is a free event for locals and tourists.”

“It’s fun,” she added.

Between 15 and 20 vendors will take over the parking lot Saturdays and Sundays year-round, between 6 am and 4 p.m.

They’ll set up shop on a patch of about 27 parking spaces and will fully break down at the end of each day.

Formerly known as the Wythe-Will Complex, the shopping center is sparsely populated, according to meeting documents. Sears Hometown and Outlet store closed in the center in July.

The Planning Commission voted 7-0 in favor of the proposal. Staff found a property owner in the nearby Liberty Crossing development opposed to the proposal.

That owner said in a letter to the county the flea market would be an eyesore and could lower the property value of the surrounding area.

The flea market will convene each weekend in the area marked in maroon. (WYDaily/ courtesy James City County)
The flea market will convene each weekend in the area marked in maroon. (WYDaily/ courtesy James City County)

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