Eastern Market Report

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The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met on July 25 in the North Hall. Vice Chair Chuck Burger announced that EMCAC will hold elections for officers in September. Burger also announced that the election of the community representative, currently held by Tom Kuchenberg, would be decided by vote at the January 2019 meeting.

Parking Parking Parking
Yet another parking report was presented to EMCAC members with no action taken on resolving this long-standing issue. A collaborative effort of two South Hall merchants, Mike Bowers and Bill Glasgow, as well as the Market Manager, Barry Margeson, the parking report focused on the Stanton East Banc parking agreement that was negotiated by two former ANC commissioners, Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate in 2012.

Stanton East Banc are the developers of 700 Penn (previously Hine JHS) which secured community support for their project by committing to dedicated parking for Market customers once the project was complete.

The parking committee cited the Planned Unit Development (PUD) application and subsequent Zoning Commission (ZC) Order No 11-24, part of which reads: “This agreement requires the applicant to monitor and analyze traffic data when the Project is 70% leased up, and to continue monitoring and implementing additional transportation demand management (TDM) actions as necessary for three years after any failure to meet projections within 10%.“

As far as subsidized parking ZC Order No 11-24 states that “in conjunction with the weekend flea market, the Applicant shall make available no fewer than 50 parking spaces in the garage and no fewer than eight spaces for trucks ranging in length from 12 feet to 24 feet in the loading dock between 7AM and 7 PM . These spaces shall be made available in the aggregate to the Market management at no more than 50 % of the market rate for an all-day (Saturday and Sunday) parking space. “

When asked by Burger what “this means in English,” Bowers stated that “if the all-day rate were ten dollars then the cost to the customer would be “five dollars or less.”

The parking committee did not offer whether or not this threshold had been crossed as far as leasing and execution of the agreement and there remained many unanswered questions at the conclusion of the discussion. There was no mention of whether or not the parking committee had contacted or met with Stanton East Banc.

EMCAC member Susan Oursler who has been a persistent voice on parking as a major problem at the Market, drilled down as she thanked Margeson, Glasgow and Bowers for their work. However, Oursler indicated her dissatisfaction with the thoroughness of their reporting , describing it as “very helpful,” but adding ”we have a long way to go.”

Among Oursler’s questions were: “What I was hoping to see was how many spots are there? Where we can park? What can the Market do to defray some of those costs to consumers? And not just on weekends.“

Oursler continued, “People are not coming to the Market if they have to carry their groceries home. The parking situation is confusing and costly. I think the Market needs to subsidize this parking.”

Chair Donna Scheeder said, “This has promise for the future but we need something now. What can we get now?”

The glacial pace of any serious solutions on parking poses an ominous threat to the future of the Market as Glasgow of Union Meats continues to warn of a serious drop in Market business. Competition with other public markets and grocery chains is fierce with a newly proposed Benning Market, a 13,000 sf market and food court planned for the Benning Road area well as an enormous surge in online grocery ordering.

According to Statista “as of 2017, 31% of US consumers were likely to buy groceries online.” And according to a Food Marketing Institute study $100 billion online grocery sales are predicted by 2025. Currently Amazon leads the field with over $2 billion in sales annually.

The discussion concluded with Scheeder commenting that “there needs to be a greater sense of urgency about doing these things.”

Leases
According to Margeson, South Hall merchants met with Department of General Service (DGS) Director Greer Gillis for the third time. The goal of these meetings is to provide a lease for the South Hall merchants. Donna Harris, a DGS public affairs specialist, was introduced at the EMCAC meeting as someone who would be following these negotiations.

South Hall merchants have been without leases for nearly twenty years.

The recently conducted appraisal by the Marcus Group, which was undertaken to determine a fair market rent in these leases, was briefly under discussion.

The Marcus Group’s recommendations were that South Hall rents were significantly under market rate and should double and in some cases nearly triple. The South Hall merchants have challenged these recommendations and have argued that little to no consideration was taken as to the Market’s historic role and significance.

As part of the appraisal process it was agreed that the merchants could order an independent appraisal if they differed with the Marcus Group’s recommendation. DGS has now offered to pay for a second independent appraisal.

Scheeder, reminding EMCAC that it “is appropriate to be involved here,” stated that “if there was no agreement on the first appraisal the South Hall merchants could ask for and pay for a second appraisal. Instead it appears that DGS is moving forward on its own. The city wants it.“

Glasgow of Union Meats added that the difficult, if not impossible task, is in finding a qualified appraiser since the Market is “historic………a public fresh food market. This is the only one in the city.”

Market Manager’s Report
Market revenues for the months of May and June were $90,174 and $83,409. North Hall revenues were $34,773 and $27,200. Farmer’s Line & Exhibitor revenue grew nearly 40% from $25,401 to $36,598 as the farm to market growing and arts & craft seasons strengthened.

With more than $750, 000 in revenue through three quarters of its fiscal year the Market may well cross the one million revenue mark for the first time. This growth has come principally from the North Hall and the Exhibitor’s Line.

Margeson presented a detailed report on social media, reporting 2060 Instagram followers. Twitter accounts for 32,494 followers and Facebook followers are just under fifty thousand.