South Hall Merchants React to Eastern Market Appraisal

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“Betrayed,” said Market Lunch owner Tommy Glasgow reacting to the certified appraisal of the South Hall stalls by the Marcus Asset Group (MAG) ordered by the DC Department of General Services, which operates the Eastern Market. As previously reported, the analysis of The MAG Report suggested fair market rents significantly higher than what is now being paid by the South Hall merchants.

The Market Lunch, which currently pays the highest rent in the South Hall, could face possible rental increases of more than $50 per square foot. “I see myself as going out of business,” stated Glasgow.

“It is almost a sense of betrayal,” Glasgow continued. “We lost our businesses to a fire that was basically due to the negligence of the District. We signed off to not file a lawsuit against them in order to move into the temporary structure.”

According to Glasgow, “We were told that lease agreements were forthcoming and in good faith we moved back to the Eastern Market and it never happened. It’s been ten years since the (2007) fire.”

Angie Brunson, owner of Blue Iris Flowers, stated, “I think we should have our own appraisal because the rents are really high…..really high.” “The South Hall merchants should get a better deal,” she continued. “All of these merchants have been here for fifty years. We kept this Capitol Hill area going. I think the neighborhood has changed and the people who kept the neighborhood alive– they are getting shafted.”

Jorge Canales, owner of Canales Delicatessen, reacted negatively to the MAG Report. “The rent is going up. I do not know what our next move will be. We will talk to our lawyer and go forward,” he said adding, “It feels that they want us out of the Market.”

“Business is down thirty percent for the past couple of years,” Canales stated. “It continues to go down. There is no way for the customer to get here on weekends. They can’t drive. There is no parking,” he pointed out.

Canales is among the South Hall merchants who might see his rent nearly triple if the recommendations of appraisal are implemented.

The 1999 Eastern Market Law requires the city to rent South Hall stalls and outside vending spaces at a fair market value. However, it also caps all annual rent increases at 102 percent of Consumer Price Index.

Market Manager Barry Margeson stated that the South Hall merchants can hire their own appraiser in the event that they are dissatisfied with the recommendations of MAG Report. If the new appraisal differed significantly, the city will hire a third appraiser to arbitrate.