Launch Pad Initiative
The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) held its monthly meeting on January 24 in the North Hall. The first order of business was a report on a new approach by the Department of General Services (DGS) to making badly needed repairs to the Market. Under the recently named Launch Pad Initiative, those companies who have an interest and expertise are being offered the opportunity to bid on repairs required at the Market.
Monte Edwards, Chair of Capital Improvements, and the go-to person for EMCAC because of his institutional knowledge, offered a number of suggestions on how this process might yield productive results, chief among them that there be a review panel that signs off on the work and that it include a representative of the architectural firm (Quinn Evans) that has done substantive and key historical work on the Market.
Vice Chair Chuck Burger asked how these repairs were going to be paid for and was told by Market Manager Barry Margeson that they would be paid for “out of the Eastern Market operating funds or someplace else.” Edwards later pointed out that the Eastern Market legislation states that they are to be paid for by DGS which under the law is responsible for capital improvements.
Chief among the repairs up for bid are “custom fitted blind materials for the windows” and the “historic restoration of the (cathedral) stone front steps” as well as an “historically appropriate railing for the front steps.”
RFP for Lower Seventh Street
Donna Scheeder, Chair of EMCAC, announced that she had received an email from DGS proposing a Request For Proposal ( RFP) for management of outdoor vending on the lower 7th St public space now occupied by the two privately run weekend outdoor flea and craft markets. A general discussion ensued with EMCAC members raising concerns that they were being asked to weigh in on a matter that would remain confidential and not open to the public or any community stakeholders. A consensus soon developed that the community at large are the correct venue for any recommendations or decisions that might be forthcoming and that it be under the direction of DGS rather than EMCAC.
Scheeder pointed to a letter EMCAC had sent to DGS in September indicating that consultations with all the stakeholders involved ought to be the appropriate basis for any decisions made by DGS.
The current privately run vendors leases for vending on lower Seventh Street expire on May 31, 2018.
Scheeder went on to add that there were many “stakeholders” who are unhappy with this turn of events even as “this block has undergone a sea change. It is time to look at it in a new way.” Scheeder stated that EMCAC rejected the draft RFP as premature, continuing:
“We advise that stakeholders are consulted on both an interim and long term plan for the use of the 300 block of 7th St. Until these consultations have taken place there is no basis on which to judge a draft RFP. Since none of these meetings and consultations have taken place EMCAC will not take action on any draft until there is a basis for review. “
This language was adopted unanimously as a motion.
Market Manager’s Report
Margeson reported that first quarter revenues were “significantly better than last year “ powered by a boost in bookings at the North Hall. Revenues were $320,209 with approximately $40,000 of the $50,000 increase coming from the North Hall.
According to Margeson an Eastern Market budget will be released at the end of February or early March and a budget hearing will be held on March 26.
The lease issue is now bleeding into its third decade, almost Trumpian in its repeated deflections and postponements. Margeson indicated that all parties are “waiting for a meeting to be scheduled between the Director and my boss, the Director of Portfolio Divisions, and EMCAC and the merchants.” According to Margeson the date has not been set.
Finally Margeson, quoting from the rules adopted by the Tenant Council, stated that from “time to time” the Market Manager reserves the right to “adopt” rules for the South Hall merchants. Stating that any number of rules had been adopted and with good results for the outdoor vendors, Margeson stated that there had “never” been any new rules adopted for the indoor merchants. He suggested that a review of some new rules was underway and laid out a process which included the Tenant’s Council’s input for undertaking them, stating that management would be back in two months with some recommendations.
Possible new rules highlighted by Margeson as under consideration are the Market opening for business on Mondays for the first time. In addition Margeson posited a system of fines that might be imposed on the merchants to correct bad behavior adding as an example that when South Hall merchants have been fined for slow rental payments that the fines generally meant the end of late payments.
The response was immediate from those merchants attending the meeting. Bill Glasgow of Union Meats, referring to Monday openings, stated: “We lose money on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. No merchants are for it. We are 100% against it. We will lose money.”
Burger, referencing a management survey of 180 customers cited earlier in the meeting , showing 65% approved the opening of the Market on Monday, stated that “CVS does not use Facebook to determine its hours. We need a strategic plan. We need data.”