Validated Parking Program Introduced at Eastern Market

Eastern Market Report: Part 2

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A parking validation sign is posted at Bower's Fancy Dairy Products in Eastern Market. Three businesses had posted signs by Friday afternoon. Photo: E. O'Gorek

At the March 27th meeting of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC), Market Manager Barry Margeson said that a parking validation program has begun at the Market for parking in the 700 Penn building or (the parkade associated with Trader Joe’s). The program offers a $4 discount on parking fees incurred at the parkade. 

Margeson announced that signs were distributed to the South Hall merchants but said that he was unsure if the South Hall merchants have yet posted the signs indicating that discounted parking is available. “We have yet to have any validation,” he said.

The market is interested in also offering validated parking at the always-full Colonial surface lot, but Margeson said nothing could be done at this time. That lot abuts C Street near Seventh Street and has 200 empty spaces underground on any weekend day.

Among the numerous established public markets in the mid Atlantic region, the Eastern Market is the last to embrace validated parking.

Sara Levitsky, Director of Communications for the Reading Market in Philadelphia said that validated parking is ”indispensable to market revenue and growth.” adding “we need to have it”  pointing to the 20,000 daily visitors, “twenty per cent who arrive by automobile” and “will not come if there is no parking.” 

Market Manager’s Report

Revenues for January and February were respectively $41,472.54 and $51,576.54. Margeson said “February was cold and [therefore] revenues were down. “

In regard to the South Hall leases, which have been under negotiation for more than a decade, DGS is waiting for the South Hall merchant’s counsel regarding last year’s appraisal and it’s  effect on the leases. 

DGS has completed financials for FYI and these along with those of Q1 and Q2 will be ready by April 19th.  A special meeting of the EMCAC Finance Committee will be scheduled to discuss these numbers.   

Capital Budget Allocation: A First

In was is taken a sign of a strengthening working relationship with EMCAC and in response to their requests, DGS has added $680,000 to the 2020 Capital Budget for an HVAC system. That budget is currently before the City Council. 

After  herculean  efforts on the part of EMCAC members over the last few years, this measure would provide funds for the total replacement of the HVAC system. According to Capital Improvements Committee Chair Monte Edwards, the system never worked properly to begin with. “I have served on EMCAC for sixteen years and this is a first,” Edwards said.

Despite the wear and tear on the Market of the past decade no moneys had  been allocated for any capital improvements since the 22.5 millions set aside for the Market’s restoration after the 2007 fire.

What was not included in the funding request by DGS was a backup generator that EMCAC feels the Market needs in case the electricity should fail,  leaving thousands of dollars in spoiled food. In addition EMCAC continues to seek funding to install an emergency notification system as a precaution because of the proximity to the Capitol. 

EMCAC leadership plans to testify at the Budget hearing on April 4th.

Chair Donna Scheeder reiterated that Council member Charles Allen is a  principal reason for Eastern Market support in last year’s funding and budget process and fully expects Allen to continue to strongly support capital improvements at the Market. 

Rediscover the Eastern Market

The Eastern Market will celebrate the tenth  year anniversary since the devastating fire of April 2007 and the Market’s subsequent restoration. The three day event will run from Friday June 7th until Sunday June 9th and will feature among other events a pot luck community dinner as well as a rare Friday night market along with a  photo documentary of the Market’s history. Docents will be trained to give a tour of the Market. More details to come.

The next meeting of EMCAC is Wednesday April 30, 2019 in the North Hall of Eastern Market (North Carolina at Seventh Street SE) at 7 p.m.

Peter J. Waldron covers Eastern Market for the Hill Rag. He can be reached at peter218@prodigy.net.