Eastern Market Citizens Advisory Committee Moves to Transition Mode –
Idea for Economic Development Master Plan Broached in Several Venues
by Larry Janezich
The members of EMCAC who struggled through thunder snow to attend the monthly meeting of the Committee on Wednesday night failed to produce a quorum for the conduct of business, so the committee confined its activities to announcements and informal discussion.
Hanging over the meeting was the knowledge that EMCAC will not be in existence much longer. The Taskforce appointed by Councilmember Tommy Wells to recommend a new governing structure for Eastern Market was scheduled to meet Thursday night to finalize a report to be submitted to Wells by February 1.
The consensus of EMCAC was that it should regard this as the beginning of a transition period to the “new market authority.” There was discussion of the appointment of a transition team to facilitate handing over oversight responsibilities to the new structure.
EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder discussed lessons learned from the Eastern Market Christmas Market, noting that this past year was the first year of heavy competition with the downtown Christmas Market, which was based on a European style town square model. She suggested Eastern Market reach out to CHAMPS and Barracks Row and come up with a Hill-wide plan for holiday sales – a master plan to help make Capitol Hill a destination. The Committee will discuss this further next month. She suggested that a Christmas market plan could be the catalyst to get people to work together initially, and then continue forward to a more comprehensive plan. This, she suggested, would be an item for the “new governing authority.”
EMCAC member Chuck Berger noted the CHAMPS initiative regarding the Capitol Hill Retail Mix Taskforce, citing the inventory of businesses about to get underway, and the work with Steve Moore from the Economic Development Center. He hoped that this initiative would be a way to begin a coordinated effort for the Hill’s economic development. He noted that he had floated an idea to the Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board regarding an effort to bring patrons to Capitol Hill businesses during the Society’s Mothers’ Day House Tour – possibly involving a discount network. Berger expects to approach interested parties next week to garner support for the undertaking.
In a related but separate development, ANC Commissioner Dave Garrison had broached the subject of the need for a master plan encompassing all aspects of economic development for Capitol Hill at Tuesday night’s ANC6b Executive Committee meeting.
Such an effort – if it involved overlays, tax incentives, etc. – would likely need to take particular account of neighborhood sensitivities, given the recent effort to tinker with the free market in what proved to be an ill-advised attempt to impose a liquor license moratorium on the 500 block of Barracks Row.
In other news, speaking as a representative of the ad hoc “Sign Tigers” group, Berger reported on the status of the Info Hub for Eastern Market Metro Plaza. He said that a design selection would be made by the end of the month and forwarded to DDOT. DDOT will pay for 75% of the costs of the new structure. A fund raising program will be launched to provide the additional 25%.