The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met on June 27th in the North Hall. Chair Donna Scheeder gave an update on the approved FY19 budget which begins on October 1 and includes $300,000 dedicated to a long sought after strategic plan study as well as funds for security bollards and EMCAC administrative costs.
EMCAC members have been paying for copying and the cost of meeting minutes out of their own pockets for nearly twenty years.
Scheeder also pointed out that the budget “specifically states that money from the Enterprise Fund cannot be used to pay for capital Improvements. “ The Enterprise Fund is the legally constituted repository of all market revenues and expenses.
With the April 2008 Market fire and renovation now more than a decade old, there is a growing need for capital improvements. However, there is no budget process or mechanism that allows for authorization of these needed funds.
Market Manager’s Report
Barry Margeson, in his 10th year as the Market Manager and the dean of regional public market managers which include nearby historic public markets such as the Lexington (Baltimore) and Reading (Philadelphia) along with the Lancaster Central Market in Pennsylvania, stated that April and May revenues were $80,961 & $90,174 respectively and that North Hall revenue for May was “very good” at $34,773.
The Market heretofore described as a three legged stool with revenue sources coming from the South Hall, the Farmer’s Line and the arts and craft vendors has grown under Margeson’s stewardship into a four legged stool with North Hall growth of privately booked and public events increasing at a 50% annual rate. North Hall revenue is projected at $300,000 this fiscal year.
Potential North Hall use offers the Market enormous capacity for adding to Eastern Market revenue.
With management focused on North Hall growth it is likely that overall Market revenue, which includes significant arts and craft vendor revenue as well, may be the key to subsidizing South Hall merchants, keeping their rents affordable, and allowing them to remain competitive in what is otherwise a fierce local market of large grocery chains and the growing impact of online shopping.
Margeson reported that lease negotiations remain underway for the South Hall merchants and that all the farmer’s now participate in the Produce Plus program.
Produce Plus is a city wide farmer’s market food access program. Those eligible participate in any number of federal benefit programs and can receive up to $10 to spend on produce twice a week.
The North Hall hosted 18 public events and 4 private events in June.
Validated parking at Reading Market in Philadelphia
Sara Levitsky, Director of Communications & Marketing for the Reading Market in Philadelphia states that their validated parking plan whose cost is $4 for the first hour is indispensable to market revenue and growth. The 80 permanent merchants pay the balance of the costs through a periodic fee as well as common area maintenance (CAM) lease arrangements.
Levitsky, who admits the plan is hard to administer at times and open to abuse says “we need to have it” pointing out that among the 20,000 daily visitors 20% arrive by automobile and “will not come if there is no parking.”
Levitsky added that those who “drive spend more.” The Reading validated parking plan has been in place since the early 2000s. Reading is open seven days a week.
Tenant’s Council Report
Anita Jefferson, non-voting representative of the Tenant’s Council, presented a thoughtful and lengthy report that was aired and discussed by EMCAC.
On June 14th the Tenant’s Council passed by a vote of 4-0 a resolution which in part calls for “management to continue to work with area parking lots to secure a minimum of two hour validated parking for customers.”
In addition the Tenant’s Council enumerated a number concerns that flowed from a study released by a recently formed Eastern Market advocacy group whose purpose is “to save an endangered treasure.”
Jefferson advised that “everyone should familiarize themselves with this study and its recommendations” among which are that the “study does point out some good ideas on improving the maintenance of the building.” Among the critiques the Tenant’s Council report states that “the study unfairly makes judgment based on data from a small group of unknown persons” and that “its main complaint is DC management.”
Finally there was a discussion that the previous established walkways for customers use through the Market had over time and through morning set up eroded and needed to be re-established.