by Joan Tupponce
Williamsburg Pottery officials expect to see a payoff from recent trips to Europe. Pottery President Kim Maloney and Executive Vice President Peter Kao are using what they learned overseas to give the 72-year-old Williamsburg landmark the look of a European marketplace.
The renovation will carry on the original vision of Williamsburg Pottery’s founder, the late James Maloney. “Jimmy always told me that this is an international market center,” Kao says.
The renovation will replace some older outlet buildings along Richmond Road with 160,000 square feet of new retail space occupying 19 acres in the 200-acre complex. The $20 million-plus investment will be entirely financed by Williamsburg Pottery.
Kao and Maloney took their inspiration from a market they visited in Brussels. “It was like a square,” Kao says. “It had all different kinds of activities as well as food and sales of items such as sterling silver and lace. We liked that idea.”
The facelift will encompass three buildings. The first will carry an abundance of everyday items and household merchandise such as cooking gadgets and silverware. It also will sell gourmet food and feature a bakery café, which will be open for breakfast through dinner. The second building will offer custom framing, a print shop, flowers and floral design as well as candles and ceramics. The third building will house the garden center with live plants and the Pottery’s homegrown geraniums along with gardening accessories.
In addition to the new look, planned improvements include expanded retail space and the addition of entertainment venues. “We will have events all year round,” Kao says. “We will have wine tastings and demonstrations in courtyard areas with stages and outdoor seating. It will be a place for the local community and tourists to go.”
Construction, which started after a Dec. 10 groundbreaking, will involve more than 30 local companies. Once the project is complete, the Pottery plans to add 100 permanent positions.
The Pottery will remain open for business daily during construction. The grand opening is scheduled for April 5, 2012 — the founder’s 100th birthday.
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