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Parkersburg marketplace maps out fall expansion

By Candace Nelson

The Parkersburg marketplace hopes soon to be overflowing with pumpkins, gourds and mums like the Capitol Market's fall stock in Charleston.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell visited the Capitol Market Wednesday with West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick to discuss the new Point Park Marketplace in Parkersburg and gain inspiration from a successful market.

"They do a great job here," Newell said. "We came down here seven or eight years ago when we started our small market to take a look at what they had here and what they're doing."

Parkersburg has been operating its market out of a 20-by-80-foot tent on Tuesdays and Fridays. Operators also bring out 10-by-10-foot tents for additional space, and they have built restrooms on the ground.

But come October, Parkersburg will have an expanded marketplace with indoor and outdoor spaces. Point Park Marketplace is located at the entrance to the newly constructed $12 million riverfront park at the confluence of the Little Kanawha and Ohio rivers.

Historically, the property had been a hotel and soda water bottling factory from the 1880s to the mid 1890s. Most recently, the property was used as an office space for a local nonprofit and children's adventure facility.

Parkersburg acquired the building for $10,000 in a trade, and they plan to have a bakery, a bicycle shop and 10-by-10-foot spaces inside for lease. In addition to the shelter, the plan is to have an outdoor market area, a large parking area and opportunities for local school children.

Newell also hopes to secure an outdoor cafe that will overlook the Ohio River.

"In fact, the sunset will be right there, so the view will be great," he said. The food service/bar area will be similar to the Capitol Market's Soho's.

Helmick said this will be yet another venue for West Virginians to sell goods.

"We want to promote this market's growers by allowing another venue for them to sell their products, which will help the Charleston market and the Parkersburg market," he said. "They will grow more in West Virginia, and we'll have another market for the growers."

Newell said many of Parkersburg's vendors right now are Ohio-based and are loyal to those markets, which makes the situation inconsistent for Parkersburg.

"We want to sell West Virginia products," Helmick said. "And right now, the product that's coming into Parkersburg is coming from Ohio. We're pushing West Virginia growers to this other venue."

Helmick said the Parkersburg market won't be competition for either Charleston or Huntington, but it will instead work together with them.

"It will help enhance the volume, and we're so excited about it and supportive of the effort in Parkersburg," he said.

The Point Park Marketplace will open starting Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for its winter market. It will host cooking demonstrations, sell pumpkins and mums in October and sell Christmas trees in December. During the winter market, Newell said there would be little produce.

The market will be held the first Saturday of each month. For the winter market, held October through April, up to 25 vendors will be accommodated with 10-by-10-foot booth spaces for $10 per Saturday. Vendors can also pay $50 for the season, but they must attend every market. Setup time is between 8:30 and 9:45 a.m.

"We would love for this to be a destination," Newell said.

The facility is currently undergoing improvements, including the interior being gutted to expose brick walls, wood trusses and steel support beams. A new pitched roof was complete and a patio and ADA-accessible ramp were installed in July. New doors, windows, light fixtures and fans are being installed this month, and water, sewer and gas lines will be relocated.

In October, restrooms are set to be remodeled. And in the summer, construction of the observation deck and side patio will begin.

For more information, contact Ricky Yeager, the city planner in the Parkersburg Development Department, at 304-424-8415.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at Candace.Nelson@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/Candace07.


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