ANC Tries to Take Flea Market Off the Table Before Hine Zoning Hearing – Market Managers Skeptical About Proposed Solution
by Larry Janezich
ANC6B has scheduled a Special Call meeting on Councilmember Tommy Wells’ Eastern Market legislation for next Tuesday. The purpose is to consider and sign off on the bill prior to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole hearing on the legislation next Thursday.
The ANC is hoping this will resolve one of the thorniest issues coming before the full ANC6B meeting on June 12 and the Zoning Commission hearing on June 14 as part of Stanton-Eastbanc’s application to change the zoning of the Hine site. There is widespread unhappiness in the Capitol Hill community over the scaling back of the flea market which will result from construction of the 560,000 square foot Hine development which will occupy almost all of the space currently used by the weekend flea market vendors.
The legislation proposes to address this problem by creating an “Eastern Market Special Use District,” which will include the 700 block of the to-be-reopened C Street, 7th Street between North Carolina Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, and the sidewalks and plazas around and adjacent to Eastern Market. The use of the Special District would be under the control of a newly formed Eastern Market Trust, intended to be the new governing body for Eastern Market.
Last Wednesday night, at a meeting in Hill Center hosted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Stanton Partner Ken Golding alluded to a drawing prepared by project architect Amy Weinstein, which lays out a plan for the weekend flea market encompassing 7th Street between North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenue, the plaza in front of the Natatorium next to Eastern Market, and the Metro Plaza. Stanton Development has not yet released that drawing, and it is unclear that they will do so, but Golding cited it as providing ample space for the market.
Councilmember Tommy Wells has asserted to flea market vendors, “The legislation does not displace current vendors or reduce Eastern Market in any way – the opposite is true. The flea market [managers] would now have a new right-of-first-refusal to continue in their space and preserve the diverse nature of the market.”
Sunday flea market manager Mike Berman says that “rushing a political solution is not the answer. What it does is let the developer off the hook.” In addition, Berman believes, that although the legislation gives him and Saturday flea market manager Carol Wright the right of first refusal, the bill will ask them to rebid on the markets they created, and under terms that remain unknown. In addition, he said, the bill: 1) fails to guarantee the size of the future weekend markets, 2) fails to define what the flea market will be, 3) fails to define how much space on the plaza the developer will control, and 4) leaves the process for closing 7th Street on weekends uncertain.
The Special Call meeting on the Eastern Market legislation will be held at St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue SE, on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at 600pm. It will be followed by the ANC Planning and Zoning Committee which will consider the Memorandum of Agreement between the ANC and Stanton – Eastbanc which ANC negotiators Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate were able to reach with the developer.
Last Thursday, the ANC Hine Subcommittee voted to send the negotiators back to the developer with a list of additional instructions. Commissioner Norm Metzger is expected to challenge the parliamentary validity of those additional instructions on the basis that they had not been considered or approved by the full ANC.