Albemarle council approves road closures for night market set to open in July

The Albemarle City Council on Monday night approved of temporarily closing parts of both South Depot Street and North Depot Street next month to make way for a new night market, which could attract many vendors and people to the downtown area.

Theodore Williams, an Albemarle resident who opened Charlotte Central Market at the old Eastland Mall site in Charlotte in 2015, first approached council with the idea of opening an open-air market and a night market in the city in April. He recently completed the special use permit to establish the Albemarle Night Market.

The market will run 6-10 p.m. Saturdays in July and will include food trucks, live music and a variety of vendors. It will be on South Depot Street from West Main to South Street and on North Depot Street from West Main to North Street. The needed infrastructure, including trash receptacles and portable toilets, would be set up from 5-6 p.m. and then taken down from 10-11 p.m.

Establishing the markets would provide benefits to the city, he told council in April. It would create communal spaces for people to come together, provide stability for his former vendors, many of whom were displaced after the Eastland market closed earlier this year, and create job opportunities for people in need of work.

Council voted 5-2 to approve the road closures, with Mayor Pro Tem Martha Sue Hall and Councilwoman Shirley Lowder dissenting.

Following the closure of the Charlotte market, the city council plans to overhaul the area and turn it into a blend of mixed-income housing, retail, offices, a grocery store and green space, according to Axios Charlotte. Williams wanted to find a new environment where his vendors could reestablish themselves and felt like downtown Albemarle was the right location.

In a follow-up interview after the meeting, Williams mentioned the night market will not only help local vendors, but should become a force multiplier for the surrounding businesses.

“Downtown Albemarle really needs some life and revitalization to help out our local businesses stay open,” he said, noting many of the businesses have been supportive of the night market. “We should really be able to serve the community.”

Williams plans to drum up additional support by starting a Albemarle Night Market Facebook page. Ideally by the second or third weekend in July, he’d like to have least 100 vendors participating and would like to see upwards of 800 people, not just from Albemarle but from the surrounding region, coming out.

“I would be happy to not be able to walk through the street comfortably, like have to move around people,” he said.

Williams is also still in talks with the city about launching his open-air flea market, which would be on Saturdays and Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on a portion of the Wiscassett property near Salisbury Avenue. Williams has secured an agreement to utilize at least 250 relatively vacant parking spaces in the vicinity.

The hope would be that both markets would feed off each other, with people attending the open-air market before transitioning to the night market.

“I feel the day market can also support the night market and vice versa and both of them can attract people to this area,” Williams said.

He’s still working out the specific details, but similar to his market in Charlotte, the vendors for the Albemarle Night Market would pay somewhere in the range of $15 to get a spot along Depot Street.

Williams, who is originally from Guyana, acknowledged in April that while night markets are not typically seen in North Carolina or the United States, they are quite common in other countries.

“These are the kind of things I do,” he told council at the time. “I work very hard to do things for my community and this is my passion.”