Change Discussed at EMCAC

Eastern Market Report: December 2022

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Eastern Market. Photo: Andrew Lightman.

Newly-elected Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) Chair Chuck Burger continues to take steps in the wake of a Nov. 9 EMCAC retreat to initiate changes that he believes will allow the Market to keep pace with the post-COVID world.

EMCAC itself is an 11-member advisory body made up of community organizations that represent any number of constituencies on Capitol Hill. Burger said that he wants more and larger committee activity as well as more community participants as he steers EMCAC in new directions. EMCAC authorized Burger to seek more organizational members for further discussion. Adding members, however, will require a change in the statutes that govern the committee.

Burger has quickly moved to create a new permanent Emergency Response Committee whose charge will be the safety of the Market in these uncertain and sometimes perilous times. The first order of business of the monthly  EMCAC meeting called on Nov. 30 in the North Hall was the establishment of this new committee, which will be co-chaired by Susan Oursler and Jackie Krieger. They have pledged to report back to the January meeting with an assessment of the security situation at the Eastern Market.

Are Leases Desired?

Burger then turned his attention to the status of the South Hall merchants who have gone more than two decades without long-term leases.

EMCAC’s Tom Kuchenberg questioned if in fact either side, meaning landlord, DC’s Department of General Services (DGS) and the South Hall merchants in fact “really wanted a lease. ““The situation has come to a halt,” Kuchenberg continued. “I am trying to find out whether leases are desirable on both sides […] and what further action we are going to take.”

Leases allow businesses to borrow money and are the linchpin of whether there is anything other than ‘good will’ to sell when and if South Hall merchants to make such a decision.

North Hall Briefing

North Hall manager Nicole Aiken gave the most extensive report on the North Hall since the District government took the space back from John Harrod and his Market Five Gallery as part of the Market restructuring.

Aiken summarized North Hall business as having the majority of its events in the spring and the fall.

One look at the North Hall income over the last five years paints a picture of the overall impact of COVID on private event bookings and so, revenue:

FY18 $300,790

FY19  $265, 586

FY20  $0

FY21 $39,143

FY22 $176,880

FY23 $109,790 (to date)

Aiken said the North Hall has a number of built in impediments that preclude growth in revenue. There is no kitchen on site, which means that potential food sales are not a part of its revenue.  Parking is virtually non-existent other than that snatched from and among the very limited street parking available for the whole of Eastern Market. As with the Eastern Market itself there still remains no long term parking solution, as South Hall merchants have been pointing out for years.

Finally, there are restrictions on political events held on District property. That precludes the North Hall from bringing in the huge dollars involved in political fundraising, an especially fruitful source in the Capitol Hill area. If that condition were modified, Aiken said, there could be an abundance of additional dollars to be realized.

EMCAC holds hybrid meetings on the last Wednesday of each month. If anyone is interested in attending virtually reach out to Burger at cburger@cbmove.com

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