Chris LaBonge and Ian Jeffery are the project developers.
Local and government officials, joined members of Quakertown Borough Council Quakertown Alive! and Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce in the groundbreaking.
The golden shovel line-up tangibly marked the next chapter of economic development in downtown Quakertown.
“This has been 11 years in the making,” said Ed Scholl, Quakertown economic consultant. Scholl is a former member of Quakertown Borough Council.
The project takes advantage of a state $2 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant, aimed at regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational or historical improvement projects, according to the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget website.
The project includes four buildings and property on about 4 acres in downtown Quakertown.
Three anchor businesses have all signed onto the project: Black River Farms Inc. of Lower Saucon Township, Two Rivers Brewing Company of Easton and Hewn Spirits of Pipersville.
Scholl and the developers are actively recruiting other vendors to the market.
“At Main Street we support small business and they (LaBonge and Jeffery) are bringing in a lot of small businesses,” said Naomi Naylor, Main Street manager of Quakertown Alive!
The public market was inspired by popular markets in Doylestown and Easton and during LaBonge’s travels abroad to public and farmers markets overseas.
The goal is to attract more visitors and consumers to the downtown.
That shouldn’t be a hard as recent traffic studies indicate thousands of vehicles drive through Quakertown every day.
While no time frame was available for opening, once complete the developers and borough officials hope the new market will give those passing through, as well as locals and near neighbors a destination experience.
Buildings being repurposed on East Road Street include the old trolley barn and former railroad station freight house buildings, the former J & D Whistle Stop hobby shop and the Mammy Kleine building.
Between the freight house and main building an outdoor green space is slated to become an open air wine and beer garden.
While not born and raised here LaBonge has fallen for Quakertown, and he and Jeffery are committed to the project and to helping the downtown flourish.
“We’re really creating something special here,” LaBonge said.
While mostly ceremonial, a groundbreaking May 16 marked construction at the Trolley Barn Public Market in Quakertown, capping off a project many have dreamed about for more than a decade.