IW names farmers market task force members

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Isle of Wight supervisors voted April 7 to name Chairman Rudolph Jefferson and Dick Grice as its representatives on a task force that will evaluate the costs versus benefits of funding former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph W. Luter III’s proposed permanent farmers market.

Chris Morello, the county’s director of economic development, has also been tapped to represent his department and the county’s Economic Development Authority. Smithfield’s Town Council, which will also have two seats at the table, has yet to name its representatives.

County Attorney Bobby Jones and Town Attorney William Riddick III will serve as non-voting members of the task force.

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Luter has offered to donate land and contribute $1 million toward the construction of the proposed 13,300-square-foot indoor/outdoor building — if Smithfield and Isle of Wight County jointly raise another $2.7 million. The new building would be part of the “Grange at 10Main” mixed-use development he’s proposed for 50-plus acres at Main Street and Route 10 on the western edge of Smithfield’s historic district.

The “Grange” would also include three- and four-story apartment buildings with a total of 225 units, a hotel, 45 single-family and duplex homes, 33,350 square feet of commercial space and over 1,000 parking spaces.

The supervisors formed the task force in March after discussing a fiscal impact study in closed session prepared by Ted Figura Consulting for LSMP LLC, the company Riddick set up for Luter in 2020 to allow him to purchase the former Little’s Supermarket and 1730s-era farmhouse known as Pierceville. Luter has since razed both structures, leaving 56.8 available acres for the “Grange.”

According to the study, in return for the $1 million contribution and the land, the developer is requesting the two localities not only “purchase and operate” the new farmers market but “provide an economic development incentive” for the hotel and “purchase the development’s infrastructure and utilities through a participation agreement.”

“It is confidently projected that The Grange at 10Main will generate sufficient revenue to support this public participation, after all variable costs of government service to the new development are paid,” the study states.

For the county, the study projects annual revenues of $1.1 million and annual costs of just over $581,000 during the development’s “stabilization period,” resulting in a 1.9-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio.

During the same stabilization period, the study projects annual revenues of nearly $670,000 and annual costs of $260,500, resulting in a 2.57-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio for the town.

According to Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson, the task force likely won’t start meeting until its town representatives are named.