Bentonville’s 8th Street Market will have food retail tenants in addition to Brightwater

 A rendering of the 8th Street Market outdoor area where food and entertainment will be offered when the project opens in early 2017. The project is a multimillion dollar investment initiative by the Walton Family Foundation and members of the Walton Family.

A rendering of the 8th Street Market outdoor area where food and entertainment will be offered when the project opens in early 2017. The project is a multimillion dollar investment initiative by the Walton Family Foundation and members of the Walton Family.

The 8th Street Market – formerly the Tyson Foods fry plant – in Bentonville’s Market District is getting a complete makeover thanks to a hefty investment from several members of the Walton Family operating as Food Hub NWA LLC.

The financial terms of the makeover have not been made public, but it’s in addition to the $8 million community development grant by the Walton Family Foundation in that same facility for the what will become Brightwater, the culinary school operated by NorthWest Arkansas Community College.

The group announced Monday (July 11) that Bike Rack Brewing Co. will be the first retail tenant in the leasable space of the expansive project. While Brightwater will anchor the large building, the project is geared to attract retail customers with an emphasis on food.

The 8th Street Market encompasses approximately 10 acres along 8th Street within the Bentonville Market District. City leaders have said the space will allow for a modern exchange of food, farm, culture and community offering visitors unique experiences to share meals, explore ideas and better connect.

The Bike Rack Brewing Co. will open a second location in the Market center in December 2016. The brewery is the first entity to announce an opening date, with more announcements to follow in the coming months as the Market leads up to a spring 2017 grand opening.

“The 8th Street Market represents a unique concept and destination in Northwest Arkansas,” said Paul Esterer, managing director of Newmark Grubb Arkansas, one of the project developers. “We see the Market ultimately as a confluence where many of the dynamics now driving growth and quality of life in Northwest Arkansas – such as culinary excellence and cultural offerings – can come together.”

The local craft brewery will feature 7,000 square feet of indoor space with a 2,000-square-foot outdoor seating area. Bike Rack Brewing Co., opened Bentonville’s first brewery in 2014 a few blocks away in the Arts District, and this new location will sell craft beer made on site.

8th Street Market development fuels a strategy launched in early 2008 by Downtown Bentonville Inc. and its community partners to position Bentonville as a national culinary destination. The Brightwater culinary school run by NWACC is a major part of the plan.

“The 8th Street Market is the perfect place to house our Brightwater program,” said Dr. Glenn Mack, executive director of culinary arts at NWACC. “Virtually everything located within this new market will have a synergistic connection to food and hospitality in Northwest Arkansas, and likewise to the Brightwater program. It’s an all-new concept for the area that I believe will help us continue to grow our region’s reputation as hospitality and culinary visionaries.”

The initial focus was on strengthening the city’s farmers market and the recruitment of restaurant concepts to grow the emerging culinary scene prior to the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

“The 8th Street Market is just another layer to this strategic vision of a world-class culinary destination,” said Mike Harvey, chief operating officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council, which funded the food assessment study conducted by Karen Karp & Partners in 2008.

In addition to Brightwater and Bike Rack Brewing Co., the 8th Street Market will also offer new restaurants and hospitality concepts to people of all backgrounds and interests. There will be specialized and artisan food concepts, including food-related startups and incubation and special food exhibitions.

8th Street Market advocates agree that live music and a focus and connection to the arts of Northwest Arkansas with indoor and outdoor experiences are part of the plan. The venue is also a stone’s throw away from the heavily traveled Razorback Greenway Trail system that links Bella Vista to Fayetteville for walkers and bikers.

This massive Market is the largest project to date that is part of Bentonville’s Market District, established as part of the Southeast Downtown Master Plan in early 2014.

“This project is exactly what we envisioned when we created the Market District,” said Troy Galloway, city of Bentonville planning director. “The 8th Street Market will use food and local farming as a core experience in creating a regional hub and incubator for culinary talent, ideas and networks. Brightwater is a major piece to this, as well as Bike Rack Brewing Co. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.”

Newmark Grubb Arkansas, Velocity Group and Community Development Corp are developing 8th Street Market. Nabholz Construction is the general contractor. Talk Business & Politics recently visited with the construction crew on site during a tour of the facility and discovered the project is costly a minimum of $1 million than originally anticipated given only 20% of the walls could be salvaged. The original plan called for 80% of the walls to be kept, but they were structurally unsound and had to be taken down and replaced.

The Market will also feature an awning on the south side of the complex that displays major waterways in the region as the light shines through the top of the awning. From underneath patrons will see the designs of Beaver Lake, the White River and other area waterways native to the region.

“This market truly will fuel the culinary momentum in the region and strengthen Bentonville’s position as a leader in the food movement,” Esterer said. “We want to develop a sense of place that is beautiful and refined, while also raw and imperfect – all of the reasons why food and drink bring us together.”