Columbus Farmer's Market rebuilding months after devastating fire

MANSFIELD, N.J. (WPVI) -- The Columbus Farmer's Market on the road to recovery after a devastating fire last year.

The steel frame is up and construction is underway on a brand-new 15,000 square-foot building at the center of the market on Route 206 in Mansfield, New Jersey.

"It will accommodate the brand-new food court with lots of indoor and outdoor seating and five brand-new restaurants as well as other retail stores," said Janice Ackerman, manager.

It was back in November that a major fire destroyed Building 4 and the 10 businesses inside. The rest of the market reopened a couple weeks later.

"A lot of people thought the whole thing was closed. I'm glad they were open right away. This place is just a staple in the area and everybody loves coming here," said Lynn Hoyer, resident.

"It's eye-opening. There's a lot to look at. Its sensory overload, but I'm enjoying it," said Lisa Chiavuzzo, resident.

Managers are hoping the building, now under construction, will breathe new life into the market, which has been suffering since last year's fire.

The outdoor flea market hasn't taken much of a hit, but business has been down at the stores inside.

"It changed the traffic flow and it seemed like it slowed down a little bit so it'd be good to have it back up again," said Rich Chapman, vendor.

Since the fire customers have had to go outside through a walkway to connect to the other buildings. The new construction will eliminate that.

"That has been what we've been waiting for because we need the traffic flow to get back to normal," said Marilyn Richmond, Silver Treasures Shop.

The new building will also feature bathrooms instead of portable toilets outside.

Vendors also welcome the additional seating in the food court.

"A lot of people want to have their food and eat but they have no place to sit so it'll be really nice," said Tanje Markgraf, Wojciechowski Balogna Kitchen.

Building 4 at the Columbus Farmer's Market is expected to be completed sometime this fall.
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