Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, June 25

DDOT hosts community meeting to discuss plans to improve safety on 17th and 19th Streets from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at Friendship Charter School, 725 19th Street, NE

Tuesday, June 26

ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the next ANC6B meeting on July 10.

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Zoning Commission Hearing on Hine to Continue Wednesday, July 11

Zoning Commission Hearing on Hine to Continue Wednesday, July 11

by Larry Janezich

Five hours of hearing time on Thursday night was not nearly enough.  The DC Zoning Commission continued the Hine hearing over until 6:30pm on Wednesday, July 11.  It could be a month after that before the commission issues a decision on developer Stanton-Eastbanc’s Zoning Application and a zoning order detailing required adjustments to the project or accommodations the Commission expects the developer to make regarding concerns raised by community groups.

Thursday night’s hearing started with testimony from developer Stanton-Eastbanc’s transportation consultant, DDOT, and ANC6B.  Commissioners Frishberg and Pate testified in support of the development, contingent on finalization of outstanding items in the memorandum of agreement as reported elsewhere on emmcablog.  Frishberg asserted the development would be a net benefit for the community and the city.  Questioned by Zoning Commissioner May about the reason four of the ten ANC6B Commissioners voted against endorsing the development, Frishberg said that there were two reasons:  objections to the over-all size and scale, and objections that the community was not getting enough benefits or amenities for the project.  At the conclusion of the Commission’s questions to the ANC, Zoning Commission Chair Hood announced that a third night of hearings would be necessary and started suggesting dates when the Commission could meet again.

For a few minutes, it appeared as though the hearing would be continued until October after key participants cited scheduling conflicts and raised objections to suggested dates.   Jacques DePuy, counsel to the developer, pointed out that an October date would put SEB in non-compliance with a schedule set by City Council statute.  That sent Zoning Chair Anthony Hood back to seek consensus for an earlier date.

The Commission agreed to resolve the issue by changing the order of witnesses, allowing the parties in opposition to go out of order and complete their testimony and attendant cross examination Thursday night.  This opened the way for a Commission meeting on July 11 to conclude the process of taking testimony.

The Commission went on to hear first from Bill Pate of Hine School North Neighbors (HSNN) who represented 8th Street neighbors’ concerns about the North Building.  He urged leaving it green space or keeping R-4 residential zoning for the parcel.  An expert witness for HSNN testified that that C2B zoning which permits the 94 foot height on the western portion of the project was inappropriate for the site and could be found nowhere else nearby.  He urged C2A zoning for the western half of the project and R-4 residential for the eastern half.  Another HSNN expert witness testified against the inadequacies of the SEB’s traffic consultant traffic study.

Eyes on Hine representative Marcel LaFollette testified on behalf of the 8th Street neighbors directly across the street from the project, saying that the project should be “smaller and better” and that the current plan “disrespects the modest scale and character of the neighborhood.”  She expressed concern that the developer was not taking steps to protect the homes closest to the site during construction, and Commissioner Turnbull offered assurances that the commission could help with that.

A third group in opposition, Eastern Market Metro Community Association (EMMCA), was represented by Steve Holtzman, who cited the benefits associated with the original design, including a central plaza, ample space for the flea market, the Shakespeare Theater, and accommodation for a large non-profit, all of which had fallen away.  What was left, he said, is a development proposal that needs more work.  He asked the commission to call upon the developer to take the concerns of the neighbors seriously, and listed those concerns as height and design of the project, historic district compatibility, open space for the flea market, a buffer between commercial and residential, and respect for the historical role the site has had in providing meaningful services for children.

Another party status opponent, Michael Berman of Diversified Market, LLC, manager of the Sunday flea market, testified on the economic and social value of the flea market.  He was supported by a contingent of witnesses – which the commission heard, but refused to acknowledge as “expert” on a 3-1-1 vote.  Berman’s witnesses testified that the Sunday flea market brought $29 million in revenue annually to the District, $5-6 million spent at the flea market, $8 million spent at Eastern Market, and the balance spent in nearby businesses and other parts of the city.  Berman asserted that reducing the size of the flea market to the space provided on C Street would reduce Sunday revenues for entirety of the Eastern market, including the flea market by $6.7 million annually.  Under cross examination by ANC commissioners, he said he had not tried to estimate the impact of 7th Street becoming available for the flea market, as has been proposed under legislation providing for a new governing structure for Eastern market.

It was difficult to assess how much traction the parties in opposition made with the Commission.  The Eastern Market legislation and the proposed solution for accommodating the flea market has somewhat defused that issue.  Drawings provided by the developer to the Zoning Commission and the ANC showing the development plan the city awarded the bid to compared with the current proposal show, according to ANC Commissioner Frishberg, the current proposal to be “in the ball park” – undercutting critics’ “bait and switch” argument.  Frishberg also noted the lack of engagement of the previous ANC6B in negotiating the terms of the Land Dispostion and Development Agreement, which, he said,  limited what the current ANC could achieve.  Concessions by the developer to not put high impact commercial on the 8th and D Street corner, and hints of siting a child care facility at that location may have taken the buffer issue off the table.  New information from the developer’s traffic consultant and discussions with DDOT appear to have resolved the most serious issues raised by the DDOT Transportation Study.  No detailed critiques of the design were offered by any of the parties in opposition, and though CHRS will insist on changes to the design fronting Pennsylvania Avenue (though not the height of the project) when it testifies, without the strong support of the ANC, it is not clear how seriously the Zoning Commission will take objections on either height or design issues.

The hearing will be continued on Wednesday, July 11.  The Commission will hear from parties in support, groups and individuals in support, and groups and individuals in opposition.  The witness list has been closed, but there are more than 90 witnesses who have registered to testify, though the Commission will not allow repetitive testimony from multiple witnesses.  The hearing will close with the developer’s rebuttal.

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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, June 18

ANC 6B Bylaws Review Working Group Meets 6:30pm – 8:30pm, at Hill Center.  Agenda:  Complete review of the ANC6B bylaws and begin review of standing rules. 

Tuesday, June 19

CHRS Board of Directors meets at 6:30pm in Capitol Hill Townhomes, 750 6th Street, SE. 

Wednesday, June 20

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm in North Hall, Eastern Market.

Thursday, June 21

Zoning Commission holds the second and probably the last day of hearings on the application of Stanton-Eastbanc for a change in zoning for the Hine site.  The meeting will be 6:30pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, Washington, DC.

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Miracle on 8th Street

ANC6B Approves Signage for National Capitol Church Theater on Barracks Row

Miracle on 8th Street

by Larry Janezich

The old Meader Theater which was opened in 1909 at 535 8th Street, SE, and went through several iterations before becoming the People’s Church in 1962 and the National Community Church (NCC) in 2011, is about to be resurrected and rechristened as the Miracle Theater.

Last Tuesday night, ANC6B signed off on the NCC’s Historic Preservation Application to install a 3 foot X 17 foot non-blinking and non-flashing sign for the front of the church.  The application now goes to the Historic Preservation Review Board with the ANC’s endorsement.

In May of 2011, Lead Pastor Mark Batterson of NCC announced that the church had purchased The People’s Church.  At that time, Batterson said NCC would turn the space back into the theater it once was from 1910 until 1960.  Services would be held Sundays, but at other times it would be an entertainment venue.

According to Batterson, the first movie was screened there on October 10, 1910.  He went on to say in May of last year, that “if we get to that point, it would be fun to show a film on the same date more than 101 years later.”   The genres of film the theater might screen include family, classic, and first run films.



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Update on the Thursday Night’s Zoning Commission Hearing on Hine

Update on the Thursday Night’s Zoning Commission Hearing on Hine

by Larry Janezich

The Zoning Commission hearing on Thursday night lasted almost five hours.  This first of at least two hearings was devoted to procedural issues and presentations by Stanton-Eastbanc (SEB), the Office of Planning, and the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee presentation.

The Commission granted party status to Diverse Market Management (manager of the Sunday flea market), the Hine School North Neighbors, Eyes on Hine, and Eastern Market Metro Community Association, all in opposition.  The neighbors representing the 300 block of 9th Street were denied party status in opposition.  CHAMPS was granted party status in support.

Party status allows those granted it more time to make their case and gives them the right to cross examine other parties.

The hearing was attended by Chair Hood and Commissioners Cohen, May and Turnbull.  Commissioner Schlater was absent.

Items of particular interest which came out during the hearing include:

  • According to Eastbanc’s Joe Sternlieb, once the project is completed it will provide 700 new jobs and $7 million in annual sales and income taxes.  In addition, SEB has a drawing showing the placement of 70 10X10 tents on 7th Street between C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, if that portion of 7th is closed and used for the weekend flea markets.
  • Nicole White of Symmetra Design, SEB’s Transportation consultant, will submit additional transportation study information to the Commission and the developer on Monday.  Of particular concern will be a plan worked out with DDOT for unloading 55 foot trucks at the development and justification for the developer’s plan for parking appropriate to support project.
  • Buwa Binitie, SEB’s affordable housing consultant, located 34 affordable housing units in the North Building, 4 in the Plaza Building, and 8 in the 8th Street Residential Building, for a total of 46.  Half will be restricted to seniors.

Questions asked of the developer by Commissioners revealed their special concerns.

The genesis of many of the questions from Commissioner May appeared to be letters from the community.  In particular, he was concerned about how the current project compared to the original design approved by the city council when the bid was awarded to SEB.  Weinstein said that she would submit additional information to the Commission.  May also questioned Sternlieb about the privatization of C Street, and Sternlieb appeared to be ambivalent about whether a 99 year lease of C Street was SEB’s preference, but stated that the plan was to make use of C Street and the Plaza a seamless experience and alluded to creative use of the space in ways involving art and culture.  May was also interest in how the project compares to other large buildings up and down Pennsylvania Avenue and asked Weinstein to provide additional information to help the commission assess the project’s height and mass.   May also asked Weinstein for an acoustic study because he was concerned about noise on 8th Street.  May favored the extensive use of the green roof, calling in “unusual.”

Commissioner Turnbull raised concerns about the alley elevation of the North Building, saying this side of the building needed additional work to make it fit into the neighborhood.  He also asked for a more extensive shadow study.  Questioning Sternlieb about parking for residents of the North Building, he determined the new information that parking for these affordable housing units will be below the project’s South building.

Chair Hood questioned White about the still-being-worked-out 55 foot truck unloading issue, and questioned Sternlieb about the weekend flea market.  However, he seemed most interested in SEB’s compliance with the First Source Agreement, providing that 50% of employees on the project be C residents.

Commissioner Cohen expressed her support for the number of affordable housing units and asked questions about location of the weekend flea market during construction and a green roof for the North Building.  Regarding the latter, Weinstein noted that the upper floors of the North Building would be a wooden frame construction and as an architect she was unprepared to try to put a green roof on a wooden structure.

Thursday night’s hearing closed with testimony from Donna Scheeder, Chair of Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee.   She expressed disappointment with the Office of Planning report and the DDOT transportation report.  She urged the recommendation in the latter for a reduction in parking be rejected.  Scheeder presented a case for the forthcoming new governing structure for Eastern Market – the “Trust” to assume control of the management of the two weekend flea markets as well as the arts and crafts vendors who operate on Eastern Market Square on the weekends.  ANC Commissioners Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate bolstered that argument with a series of cross examination questions which amounted to a colloquy supporting the ability of the Trust and an expanded Special Use District – both provided for in legislation working its way through City Council – to handle and accommodate the combined markets.

The hearing will resume next Thursday at 6:30pm, when Nicole White of Symmetra will continue her presentation with new information and the benefit of consultation with DDOT to resolve remaining transportation and parking issues.


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Capitol Hill Restoration Society Endorses Hine Project, With Reservations

Capitol Hill Restoration Society Endorses Hine Project, With Reservations – Final Report Backs Away From Previous Criticism of Height and Mass

by Larry Janezich

CHRS has released testimony it will present to the Zoning Commission on Stanton-Eastbanc’s application to change the zoning on the Hine site.  The final report of the CHRS on the project states, “In the main, CHRS supports the application but still has concerns about some elements of the plans….”

The report then takes issue with the design of the 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue building, calling it “inappropriate and incompatible with the historic district.”  And, “CHRS strongly urges that this building’s design be revisited and made more compatible with historic Capitol Hill.

The report goes on to express reservations about the connecting structure between the two buildings fronting Pennsylvania Avenue, which it calls “completely incompatible with the historic character of Capitol Hill, and in particular, of Pennsylvania Avenue….”  Further, “CHRS insists that this structure be redesigned.”

While the report reiterates criticisms of the design of the 7th and Penn office building and the connecting structure which CHRS raised before HPRB in April, oddly, the report is silent on the size and massing of the project.  In testimony before HPRB last April, CHRS called the 7th  and Penn building “too big, too tall, and too massive” and asked “that the seventh floor be dropped and the sixth floor set back at least as far as the seventh is now.”  Subsequently, ANC6B negotiators were successful in reducing the height of this building by removing the mechanical penthouse and eliminating the top set-back floor – less than what CHRS called for in April.  The April testimony concluded with a request that HPRB revisit and reconsider its earlier decisions regarding the height and mass of the portion of the development between C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

In another part of the report, CHRS states that they believe the preservation of the flea market has been adequately addressed by Councilmember Wells’ Eastern Market legislation working its way through City Council, stating flatly, “The Trust will close 7th Street to provide for the flea market.”

Finally, the report slams last week’s DDOT Transportation report which recommended a substantial reduction in the project’s underground parking, calling it flawed and a “great disappointment.”  The report goes on, “Unfortunately DDOT…has decided to wait until just a few days before this hearing to throw a hand grenade into the room.”  CHRS has long supported the substantial parking provided by the developer which was subsequently approved by the city council.  The report states, “It is astonishing that DMPED and the Ciy Council can approve the parking and then DDOT, at the eleventh hour, can veto it.”  It calls on the Zoning Commission to disregard the Transportation Report.

Gary Peterson, Chair of the CHRS Zoning Committee, will present the report to the Zoning Commission.

Tonight, the Zoning Commission holds the first of what is likely to be two hearings on the application of Stanton-Eastbanc for a change in zoning for the Hine site.  The meeting will be at 6:30pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, Washington, DC.  The hearing is open to the public and likely to be well-attended.  It will be webcast live at  Click the second button from the bottom on the right column.


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A Divided ANC6B Endorses The Hine Project – Developer Makes Additional Benefit Concessions

A Divided ANC6B Endorses The Hine Project – Developer Makes Additional Benefit Concessions

by Larry Janezich

A divided ANC6B gave conditional endorsement to the Hine project on Tuesday night, voting 6 – 4 to agree to a package of benefits and amenities negotiated with the Hine developers by Commissioners Frishberg and Pate.

Those supporting:  Frishberg, Pate, Garrison, Oldenberg, Metzger, and Flahaven.

Those opposed:  Critchfield, Glick, Campbell, and Green.

Additional benefit concessions made by the developer since the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting last week include $75,000 to support a playground in the park bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, 8th Street, D Street, and 9th Street, SE.  In addition the developers agreed to allocate no less than 2,000 square feet of non-subsidized space for community oriented non-profits.  Finally, the developer agreed to provide subsidized office space for the ANC.  The latter has been a pet project of Commissioner Garrison, who groused at last week’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting that he didn’t understand why negotiators had failed to win this benefit for the community.

Hine Subcommittee Chair Frishberg moved to approve the benefits package and endorsement, stating that the process had not been ideal, but had been dictated by what the city did.  “DMPED (Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development) got a great deal for city – not so great for neighbors.”  He said he still believed this will be “a benefit to the community and the benefits package is fair and more productive than others I’ve seen.”  He cited inclusion of an on-site day care center for at least 24 children, $50,000 improvements to Metro Plaza, as well as ANC meeting space and allocation of space for non-profits.

Subcommittee Vice Chair Brian Pate supported the deal saying, “I’ll stand by the benefits package and continue to work to mitigate the impact of the development on the community.”

A broad spectrum of the community – some 50 residents – beyond what has been characterized as the nearby neighbors, turned out for the meeting.  Seventeen rose to express concerns ranging from the height and mass, how candidates for child care would be selected, traffic, parking, and the flea market.  Two attendees spoke in favor of the project.

Among the commissioners other than the negotiators, Garrison and Flahaven voiced their support for the project, both saying they regretted the reduction in height at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue achieved by the negotiators and cited the need for the ANC to have a strong voice before the Zoning Commission hearing on Hine on Thursday.  Flahaven said the benefits package was a good balance between the interests of the neighbors and the interests of Capitol Hill.  Commissioner Metzger cited the need for more density and neighbors.  Commissioner Oldenberg said she had been disappointed in the initial benefits package unveiled last week, but as revised by the additional concessions of this past week, she could support it.

On the other side, Commissioner Glick announced his opposition saying the benefits package for the community fell short.  Francis Campbell said the project “is too damn big – it is too much in too small a space.”

Frishberg had the last word wrapping up the debate by acknowledging community unhappiness with the agreement and the project.  He noted that he had not supported this developer – that he had favored the “campus plan” among the finalists who bid for the development.  But, he said, “the City Council voted for (Stanton-Eastbanc).”  He expressed frustration that the ANC had beaten its head against the HPRB and gotten “almost nothing,” noting that it was they who are supposed to safeguard the community.  “This is not the (benefits package) I would have written…but if we walk away, we don’t know what we’ll get.  I don’t think I can walk away because there is a risk on the other side.”

After agreeing to support the package, the ANC voted to reject a request from Frishberg to authorize the expenditure of $2,500 for legal advice to help negotiate the Construction Management Agreement between the developer and the community.   The motion failed on a 5 – 5 tie.

Those who supported the motion:  Frishberg, Pate, Critchfield, Flahaven, and Campbell.

Those opposed:  Garrison, Oldenberg, Metzger, Glick, and Green.

Thursday night, the Zoning Commission holds the first of what is likely to be two hearings on the application of Stanton-Eastbanc for a change in zoning for the Hine site.  The meeting will be 6:30pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, Washington, DC.


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Editorial: The ANC6B Vote on Hine Tuesday Night

Editorial:   The ANC6B Vote on Hine Tuesday Night

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, ANC6B will vote on its conditional support of the Hine Development.  It will be the last opportunity for public input at the community level before the Zoning Commission hearing on the issue on Thursday.  Despite the Eastern Market residential community sending ANC negotiators back to the developer with instructions to take more height off the 7th and Penn Office building and despite wider community concern about the fate of the flea market, the negotiators were unable to get further concessions from the developer on either of these issues.  It appears, in fact, that the flea market didn’t come up and that the ANC is relying on a speculative legislative solution proposed by Councilmember Wells which purports to make the flea market a non-issue before the ANC and the Zoning Commission.

What the community is getting from the developer in return for the impact of the development on the neighborhood is precious little: a minimal height concession on the 7th and Penn building, $50,000 in landscaping for Metro Plaza, and a subsidized childcare center somewhere for a minimum of 24 children.  It doesn’t seem like much, and it isn’t.  The developer appears to believe that by providing the benefit of 34 additional affordable housing units above what is required that they have done enough – maybe more than enough.

Unless the community can convince the ANC otherwise, it is likely to vote to endorse the project, despite recent letters from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing raising concerns about specific transportation and affordable housing issues, and despite the reservations of the once-Stanton-supporting Capitol Hill Restoration Society.

Ideally, ANC6B would vote down the conditional endorsement of the project and go to the Zoning Commission without a position and say that the developer has failed to address the major concerns of the community and ask the Office of Planning to require mediation by an outside mediator before any zoning change.

By not requiring more of its ANC representatives – who after all, were negotiating on behalf of Councilmember Wells, who pledged to support whatever position the ANC takes – the community has shortchanged itself.  It can redeem itself Tuesday night at the 7:00pm ANC6B meeting at Hill Center.


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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, June 12

ANC 6B meets at Hill Center at 7:00pm

Items of interest on the agenda include:

Retail liquor license and tasting permit for Yes Organic Market;

Restaurant license for Beuchert’s Saloon, 623 Pennsylvania Avenue SE;

Hine School Redevelopment, Stanton-Eastbanc LLC, consolidated PUD (Planned Unit Development) and Related Map Amendment

Thursday, June 14

Zoning Commission holds the first of what is likely to be two hearings on the application of Stanton-Eastbanc for a change in zoning for the Hine site.  The meeting will be 6:30pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, Washington, DC.


Case Number : Z.C. Case No. 11-24  

Case Name : Stanton-EastBanc, LLC – Consolidated PUD & Related Map Amendment @ Square 901  

Case Summary : On November 23, 2011, the Office of Zoning received an application from STANTON-EASTBANC LLC, on behalf of the District of Columbia, the owner of the subject property (collectively, the “Applicant”). The Applicant is requesting approval of a consolidated planned unit development (“PUD”) and related map amendment for the property located on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., between 7th and 8th Streets, which is more particularly described as Lot 801 in Square 901 (the “Property”). The Office of Planning provided its report to the Zoning Commission, dated February 3, 2012, and the case was set down for hearing by the Zoning Commission on February 13, 2012. The Applicant provided its prehearing statement to the Zoning Commission on March 26, 2012. The Property consists of approximately 137,614 square feet. It is currently improved with a building previously used, prior to its closure, as the Hine Junior High School. The Property is zoned R-4 and, through the requested PUD-related map amendment, would be rezoned to C-2-B. The purpose of the PUD and map amendment is to permit the redevelopment of the Property with a mixed-use project consisting of two buildings that will contain a mix of residential, office, and neighborhood-serving retail uses and underground parking (the “Project”). The proposed PUD will have a total gross floor area of approximately 466,247 square feet. The smaller of the two buildings will be located at the northern edge of the Property and is identified as the “North Building”. The larger of the two buildings is identified as the “South Building” and will abut 7th Street, S.E., Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., a small portion of D Street, S.E. and 8th Street, S.E. The South Building will contain a residential component on 8th Street, an office component on 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue and another residential component on 7th Street that will face the urban plaza. The Project will provide (i) approximately 253,767 gross square feet of residential use, of which approximately twenty-nine percent (29%) will be devoted to workforce/affordable housing, and (ii) approximately 201,907 gross square feet of commercial office and retail uses. Potential uses for below grade retail space under the South Building include a grocery store, drug store or gym/health club. The Project will have a total Floor Area Ratio (“FAR”) of approximately 3.4 and building heights ranging from 47 feet to 88 feet. The Project will be supported by a two-level underground parking garage under the South Building which will contain approximately 320 parking spaces. A second hearing night of Thursday, June 21, 2012 is scheduled if needed.

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Update on Fate of Weekend Flea Markets at Hine

Update on Fate of Weekend Flea Markets at Hine – Eastern Market Committee Seeks Party Status at Zoning Hearing To Support Flea Markets

by Larry Janezich

The fate of the weekend flea markets has been one of the issues which galvanized the Eastern Market community with respect to the Hine Development.  Here is a summary of where things stand on the eve of the Zoning Commission’s hearing on Stanton-Eastbanc’s application to change the zoning for the site.  The hearing, scheduled for Thursday, June 14, at 6:30pm, will be one of the last – if not the last – opportunities for public input on the project.

It appears that the zoning hearing will proceed with the fate of the flea markets unresolved.  Generally speaking, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Department of Housing and Economic Development are fine with a 68 tent weekend flea market.

Community members who oppose reducing the size of the flea market have brought political pressure to bear on their ANC representatives and Councilmember Tommy Wells to remedy the situation, and Wells’ response has been to amend his proposed legislation providing a new governing structure for Eastern Market to give the new body (the “Trust”) authority to site the flea markets on 7th Street between North Carolina Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue on weekends.   This end would be accomplished by incorporating 7th Street between North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenue in the “Eastern Market Special Use District,” which would be under the control of the Trust.  The legislation was fast-tracked and headed for a hearing last Thursday, when the resignation of City Council Chair Kwame Brown resulted in a hearing postponement.

Other developments last week shed light on, or raised new concerns about the fate of the flea markets.

Donna Scheeder, Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) Chair, filed papers with the Zoning Commission asking for party status for EMCAC to oppose the Hine Development’s public space benefits at the Commission’s June 14 hearing.  Public space benefits refer to the developers’ limited plan to accommodate the flea markets.  Party status before the Zoning Commission gives entities granted it, more standing before the Commission, more time to present their case, and the right to cross examine witnesses and others with party status.  Scheeder is Councilmember Tommy Well’s appointee to the Committee and the Committee voted earlier this year to seek party status in the upcoming hearing.  There was some question whether EMCAC’s filing for party status was timely, and it may depend on a waiver by the Zoning Commission to be in order.

EMCAC, which has statutory responsibility for advising city agencies on the preservation and operations of Eastern Market, was one of the organizations which endorsed Stanton-Eastbanc’s bid for the development before the city chose a developer.  That support was contingent on the developers providing space for the flea market and as well as adequate parking for Eastern Market shoppers.  EMCAC’s support for the development began to waiver when the developers began to scale back the amount of space for the flea market, then appeared to firm up once Wells’ legislative solution was proffered.

Details of how the plan could work were revealed at a CHRS community forum on the Hine Development last Monday.  A representative of Oheme Van Sweden, landscape architect for the Hine project, presented an aerial photo taken July 28, 2010, that showed 204 tents including the flea market and all the additional vendors abutting the Market and in front of Natatorium.   The landscaping firm has prepared a plan providing for 250 tents in the new Special Use District, including 68 on C Street, 19 on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza, 163 on 7th Street between North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of Natatorium.  Their count includes tents that not only include weekend flea market vendors, but also those under Market management.  Serious issues regarding logistics and accommodation for the 7th Street ‘brick and mortar” merchants remain and have yet to be addressed.

Although the focus of Scheeder’s application for party status concerns preserving space for the flea market, another issue arose last week which could jeopardize the Market’s interests.  On Monday, the DDOT Transportation Report became available and recommends a substantial reduction of 100 to 125 parking spaces in the total parking available for the project.  Since parking is expensive to build and slow to return a profit, it would seem that the developers would be only too happy to scale back the parking.  The issue is complicated by the developers’ pledge to provide 50 spaces for flea market vendor parking on weekends (at half-price) but reducing the total parking for the project would make this problematic and likely would come at the expense of parking for patrons of the Market.

ANC6B will meet on next Tuesday to vote on whether to endorse the project based on a number of recently negotiated benefits, amenities, and mitigations.  Moving forward without the flea market issue being resolved may have to be an article of faith, and that may be asking a lot of the Eastern Market community.


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