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No Saturday Flea Market on Lower Seventh Street

The flea market is likely to be absent from the 300 block of Seventh Street SE (between C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE) for the forseeable future, because the private operator has not renewed the contract, it was revealed at a meeting of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) Wednesday night.

The Sunday flea market on the 300 block of Seventh Street as well as the Saturday flea market on the 200 block of Seventh Street SE, between C Streets and North Carolina Avenue SE, are unaffected.

That’s because the Flea Market at Eastern Market is actually three distinct flea markets: two private and one public, managed on a total of five different sites. Under the auspices of the DC Department of General Services (DGS) Eastern Market Manager Barry Margeson manages the vending near Eastern Market, on the 200 Block of Seventh St. SE and on the plaza of the adjoining William H. Rumsey Aquatic Center.

Flea markets are also operated on C Street SE, which is privately owned and maintained by Stanton Development and EastBanc as part of the Hine Development. In fall 2017, two separate privately-run flea markets signed three-year leases to operate there. On Saturdays, the C Street SE vending operation at Hine is managed by Carol Wright of Washington Arts, Antiques, Crafts & Collectible Associates (WAACA). On Sundays, Michael Berman organizes vendors under the auspices of Diverse Markets Management (DMM).

Both these private corporations previously held six-month contracts with DGS to operate flea markets on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE on the same days as they operate on C Street SE. Monthly rent for the space is $3,050; an increased from $2,000 per month implemented in November 2017. Saturday vendor Carol Wright of WAACA has not signed a contract for the 300 block of Seventh Street, which came up for renewal after Dec. 1, 2018.

RFP to be Issued

Margeson, the Eastern Market Manager, said that a Request for Proposals to find a new operator for the Saturday market was being prepared by DGS.

“The Department of General Services (DGS) License to Occupy the 300 block of Seventh Street on Saturdays with an external contractor expired on December 1, 2018 and is terminated,” Margeson wrote in a message to the Eastern Market Community.

“On February 7, 2019, DGS will advertise a Request for Proposals for management of the 300 block of Seventh Street on Saturdays.”

Chair Donna Scheeder said that she was surprised at how quickly the conversation went from options for the block to the decision to issue an RFP, adding that as the committee had not yet reached a formal position, she spoke for herself.

The absence of a Saturday flea market contractor comes with a debate about the merits of keeping Seventh Street SE closed to traffic on weekends, ongoing since the Hine Project was completed in Fall 2017, still unresolved.

“EMCAC has taken a position that we support the block being occupied by flea market activity until the strategic business plan addresses this,” said Scheeder. “This action is in keeping with this position.”

“However, EMCAC is also charged to review the RFPs that deal with market activities in the Eastern Market Special Use District so I have written to Barry Margeson to demand that we review the RFP before it is promulgated,” Scheeder added.

Saturday flea market operator Wright told the Hill Rag she had no comment at this time.

The Hill Rag has reached out to DGS for further information.

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