Outdoor Eastern Market Vendors Want Consistent Placement

Eastern Market Report: January 2022

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Eastern Market. Photo: Andrew Lightman.

The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee ( EMCAC) met virtually on Jan. 26th. There was some discussion about the process by which spaces are allocated to vendors for the outside market.

Vendors are seeking a more formal permitting process that will allow them to remain in established spaces. On behalf of the Department of General Services (DGS), Market Manager Barry Margeson manages both Eastern Market itself as well as outside vending around the building and on the 200 and 300 blocks of Seventh Street SE.

While vendors value being in the same place every week, Margeson has been placing each vendor weekly using a digital program. Arts and crafts vendors see the stable location of leased space as vital, but the market manager says he has to meet the needs of the market overall and has authority over the process.

In an effort to come to a consensus EMCAC Chair of Market Operations Tom Kuchenberg held a meeting on the topic Jan. 19. The result was a report with five recommendations to EMCAC on topics ranging from defining a vendor permit, how to manage marketing violations and the protection of vendor spaces.

With an amendment from EMCAC member Susan Orsler the report as passed by EMCAC Jan. 27 recommends that “every effort shall be made to allow vendors to remain in their established spaces, however, the Market Manager will have the final authority to assign spaces in order to best meet the needs of the Market as a whole.“

While the report passed a vote by EMCAC, it appears the matter is not resolved for all. Tenant’s Council Chair Anita Jefferson, representing the arts and craft vendors said the Tenant’s Council had submitted information for the report that she felt had not been sufficiently considered. “We are not part of the consensus,” she said on behalf of the vendors, “because a number of those things do not match what we submitted to the committee. “

Capital Improvements

Margeson reported that the stonework contract for the outside of the building is being  reviewed by contractors drawn from a special Department of General Services (DGS) list of trusted companies who have achieved a comfort level working with the District government. The bid will be let to three contractors.

The HVAC situation has been ongoing. Multiple meetings and assessments and expensive repairs have taken place recent years. In 2019, DC Council approved allotment of $680,000 to make repairs on the system, which was installed after the Market fire and renovations of 2008-09.

According to EMCAC Chair of Capital Improvements Monte Edwards, the cost has climbed from the original projection of $680,000 to $1.3 million for the complete replacement HVAC system. Repairs are no longer deemed cost effective, and the entire chiller system needs to be replaced.

Revenue

Margeson gave an update on both holiday business and briefed EMCAC on first quarter revenues. The numbers show that Eastern Market is returning more and more to normal levels of business but is still very much impacted by COVID and the most recent Omicron virus.

Revenue for the first quarter of FY 22 was $166,486 for an average of $55,495 per   month. September revenues were $66,512; revenues averaged $45,856 for the year.

Margeson said monthly revenues through the holidays were lower than management had hoped, by as much as $11,000 less than what was budgeted. That’s despite the turnout from vendors, many of whom set up daily through December.

Parking

Margeson reported that a validated parking program for merchants and outdoor vendors continues to work well. A major benefit is that it frees up critical customer parking proximate to the Market that employees or vendors might otherwise have occupied.

Peter J. Waldron is a long time Hill resident and former Chair of ANC6B and has been reporting on the Eastern Market for fourteen years. Waldron can be reached at peter218@prodigy.net.