In a Facebook post, Allen said he delayed the grand opening due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, primarily spurred by the proliferation of the Delta variant. The DeKalb Board of Health reported a 31% increase in cases during the first two weeks of August. About 47% of DeKalb residents have been fully vaccinated.
Allen also said the delay would allow merchants who plan to lease space in the marketplace to have more time to build their shops. Any fees vendors paid to lease marketplace space have been refunded, the post said.
Matt Hampton, Allen’s spokesman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday that they’ll use the extra two months to slowly and safely get vendors into the building. He said about 90 vendors have signed up to lease one of the marketplace’s 118 spots.
“Now we’re getting to the point where we need to push people into the building,” he said. “We’re going to use the next 60 days to get merchants in place, get signs up and get businesses in place.”
A video posted to the marketplace’s Facebook page Friday showed Hampton in the building as construction continued. As builders worked in the background, he said the floors were being installed.
He walked through the space, which is designed to feel like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and listed off the names of businesses that have signed on to participate. The market has already carved out space for a grocery store, jazz club, food court and art gallery.
Hampton added that they’ll have dozens of consignment deals with small businesses to stock some of the physical stores.
“I may have 40 entrepreneurs just to supply my grocery store. I may have 12 different bakers supplying my bakery,” he said. “... We really feel consignment gives us the opportunity to help more entrepreneurs.”
The marketplace held its first event May 28 to honor the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when a white mob burned down the Black Wall Street business district in Oklahoma and left up to 300 people dead.
Allen told the AJC that Stonecrest, which is about 93% African American, is the perfect place in metro Atlanta to promote Black entrepreneurship.
“We just think in a predominantly African American community, the predominance needs to reflect not just the people who live there but the business ownership as well,” Allen said in May.
Allen runs the Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, a business incubator that provides education and support for minorities. Businesses that will lease in the marketplace will go through several training sessions before the grand opening.