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Farmers’ market, surrounding land to be sold

Farmers’ market, surrounding land to be sold
[File Photo]

St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and market district businesses are set to change hands from Mercedes Corp. to Schlegel Urban Developments Corp.  in early 2018, contingent on obtaining the necessary corporate and regulatory approvals.

The sale will include the land and operations of the St. Jacobs Factory Outlet mall, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, Market Road Antiques and the TSC property. The businesses and approximate 45 acres of land on which they sit, is currently owned by families of Ross and Milo Shantz and 40 independent shareholders.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Since 1975 the land has been home to the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX) and the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market with more than 350 year-round vendors. Today the second generation of Shantz entrepreneurs operate and partner in the farmers’ market, restaurants, furniture stores, hotels and other business enterprises. The farmers’ market and Village of St. Jacobs are now an international destination, attracting more than one million visitors to the area each year.

Owned and operated by the Ronald Schlegel family, the Schlegel family group of companies is actively involved in a wide variety of businesses, including mental health and addiction services across Canada, seniors’ care across Ontario, as well as urban development and agri-business more locally. One of the portfolio entities, Schlegel Urban Developments is a Kitchener-based real estate company recognized for its residential subdivision projects and commercial developments, the most prominent being the mixed-use Williamsburg Town Centre on Fischer-Hallman Road in southwest Kitchener.

“We are truly excited to welcome the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market district businesses into the Schlegel family and look forward to continuing to improve and grow this unique community asset. We believe the tradition of excellence in offering high quality, locally produced food, unique artisans and crafts and a meaningful rural Ontario experience to both local Waterloo Region customers and visitors from through-out the province of Ontario provides a significant economic benefit across the Region of Waterloo ” said Ron Schlegel, chairman of Schlegel Urban Developments, in a release announcing the sale Tuesday. “We respect the national reputation developed by the Shantz family as well as the proven Shantz family dedication to local producers, small business entrepreneurs and giving back to the local community. ”

Mercedes Corp.’s Jenny Shantz said the deal, in the works for about the last six months, seemed to be the best direction for the group.

“Our family and shareholder group has been involved for many, many years in developing the destination and various businesses within it and we feel that it is time for some new vision and energy. Our shareholder group is over 40 shareholders and we have been looking at ways to help our shareholder group exit from this investment, so this was a good option for all involved,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

The Mercedes board considered a variety of strategic alternatives and determined the Schlegel Urban Developments offer was the most attractive and best alternative for all stakeholders to see the farmers’ market district into the future, she noted.

“We are very pleased to announce this transition and to provide an ongoing opportunity for our many valued vendors, tenants, OLEX and partners to deliver high quality goods and one of a kind products. We are thankful for the support of all our employees over the years. Their hard work has contributed to the success of all these properties,” said Mercedes co-founder and president Ross Shantz in a statement.

“The future of the farmers’ market district is exciting and strong,” added longtime director of market operations, Sheila Shantz, who is staying on to lead the market team as they, along with other Mercedes employees joining Schlegel Urban Developments.

“We have many long-term vendors who have been with us every step of the way, and we look forward to continuing our tradition of delivering a unique experience to all market visitors and customers” she added.

“The Schlegel and Shantz families have known each other since the 1960s and share not only local farming roots but also values of hard work, honesty, integrity and fairness in our business dealings” added James Schlegel, president and CEO of Schlegel Urban Developments.

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