St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to be sold
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Wednesday, November 29, 2017 11:55AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 29, 2017 6:38PM EST
One of Waterloo Region’s biggest tourist attractions is being sold – but to hear everyone involved in the deal say it, no major changes are on the horizon.
An agreement has been reached to sell the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, along with the neighbouring properties containing Market Road Antiques, the St. Jacobs Outlets and a TSC store, are being sold from Mercedes Corp. to Schlegel Urban Developments.
The deal was announced Wednesday, and is expected to close early next year. The purchase price was not disclosed. In total, it involves 45 acres of land.
“We’re super excited about the opportunity to become part of a local institution,” Schlegel president and CEO James Schlegel said Wednesday.
Mercedes Corp. is owned by the families of Ross and Milo Shantz, who opened the Ontario Livestock Exchange in 1975. An outdoor market was held on the same grounds from the beginning, and became more of a focal point after a permanent building was erected in 1987.
Over time, the next generation of the Shantz family became more involved with the business.
Sheila Shantz is the current manager of market operations. She says the Shantz and Schegel families have known each other for decades, and the Schlegels seemed like the right people to turn to when her family decided to sell the business.
“We share similar values and Mennonite roots, so it just seemed like a really great fit,” she said.
Schlegel Urban Developments played a major role in developing the Williamsburg neighbourhood in southwest Kitchener. The Schlegel family businesses are also involved in the long-term care, mental health and addiction sectors.
James Schlegel says the company focuses on fields where it can create “a sense of place, where neighbours know each other,” and sees the St. Jacobs purchase as being along the same lines.
“This is very much aligned with who we are and what we’ve been trying to achieve as a family,” he said.
While any sale creates the possibility for sudden changes, Schlegel says it will be business at usual in the market district for now.
In an interview, he mused that the area could eventually see more space for vendors, children’s activities or restaurants.
“There’s lots of opportunity to add to an already very strong base,” he said.
“We hope, over time, that we can envision even a brighter and a better future for this St. Jacobs Market District, and envision something that’s even stronger than it is today.”
The market’s current management team will stay in place following the sale, Schlegel said.
With reporting by Stu Gooden