ANC Tries to Take Flea Market Off the Table Before Hine Zoning Hearing – Market Managers Skeptical About Proposed Solution

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.


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8 responses to “ANC Tries to Take Flea Market Off the Table Before Hine Zoning Hearing – Market Managers Skeptical About Proposed Solution

  1. Elizabeth Eby

    Am I crazy? The flea market surrounding the Market building is what people picture when they come to “Eastern Market.”. Without that vibrant street scene, Eastern Market is, more or less, a grocery store. it seems sort of crazy to cash in on the market’s reputation as a fun place and turn it into a monoxide island.

  2. dscheeder

    No, you are not crazy and the farmers, arts and crafts and flea market that surrounds the building is run by Eastern market management.and provides part of the revenue stream that supports all of the market operations. They are not part of the Hine discussion and will continue as they are. The markets in the Hine parking lot are run separately outside of Eastern Market management and that is what is being referred to above.

  3. “We’ve got a drawing,” indeed. Pin these guys down, or the next thing you’ll see after PUD is another drawing.

  4. David Healy

    The proposed Hine project puts the lie in the “Capitol Hill Historic District.” The project is simply to9 big for the site and for the neighborhood.

  5. ChrisB

    Too big? Really? It is an urban mass transit hub for bus, bike and rail. If we can’t build high density around metro stations where should they be built? Metro stops should be surrounded by the highest density buildings allowed. I am not a Stanton fan but really folks, you live in a CITY, in a neighborhood where high density public transportation come together at Eastern Market. We love how vibrant the hill has become over the last 25 years we have lived here. Bring more people to make it a better and safer place. We welcome taxpaying individuals and businesses. Build more not less. Wish we could add 4-5 floors over the commercial buildings on Penn Ave and 8th street.

  6. @chrisb read the comp plan- capitol hill area element. OP recommended no upzoning for surplus schools or where surrounded by residential. and it says to protect and defer to eastern market building. this is the city’s guiding document. It is an urban transit hub. It is also a residential and historic neighborhood and the land is zoned R4. Agree, next to a metro deserves more density consideration. Staying within the original rfp envelope would have achieved right scale, right amount of public space and plenty of business and taxpayers.

  7. Joe

    Yes, ChrisB, it’s too big (not to mention, too ugly). Yes, it is located at a mass transit hub and for that reason it was slotted to have 500,000 sq. ft. of space. But “high density” doesn’t necessarily equate to vibrancy. Look at the Navy Yard/Ballpark neighborhood for proof of that. Since you seem to choose density at any cost, you should move there — you’d love it. But in reality you wouldn’t love it, because instead you love how “vibrant” the Hill has become. This is the Historic District. Eastern Market itself is a unique jem and there’s a limit to what is appropriate across the street from it. While the weekend flea market may not be the “highest and best use” of that land, it’s successful and beloved and draws crowds of locals and visitors; why kill that in the name of “highest density”? Look at the (atrocious) building this same architect and these developers built directly across from Eastern Market. It’s big, but did it help to make the Hill “a better and safer” and more vibrant place? No. It has always been a dead zone. I think a lot of us agree with you in what you want, but we firmly believe this is not the way to get there. Stanton should just build the buildings that were promised!

  8. Donna

    I have lived on Capitol Hill for nearly four decades. But I live just outside the boundaries of ANC6B. I can be faulted for not keeping up with the details of the process, but I didn’t realize until the meeting with Tommy Wells a week ago that I had no real representation on such an important matter to our community. A handful of individual volunteers, however well intentioned and dedicated, are no match in negotiations with such well-connected and well-funded developers — who by their substantial changes to the original plan have already demonstrated their bad faith with the community. Tommy Wells’ stated deference to whatever ANC6B agrees to is an abdication of his responsibility to represent ALL of his constituents. While everyone recognizes, albeit reluctantly, that development of the Hine site is both inevitable and necessary, the developers should be required to honor the size and configuration of the original plan that had community acceptance — one of the reasons they won the bid to develop the project in the first place.