CHRS Considers Weighing In On City Closure of 7th Street For Flea Market
by Larry Janezich
Last night the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) Board of Directors heard a request from Barbara Eck, the Board’s representative to EMCAC, that the Board write a letter to the city in support of EMCAC’s position that the city close the 300 block of 7th Street to accommodate the flea market during the construction period for the Hine project. The request was supported by Board Member Chuck Burger, who sits on EMCAC in his capacity as a representative of CHAMPS, and Board Member Monte Edwards, who sits on EMCAC in his capacity as a representative of the Stanton Park Association.
In support of the request, Burger said, “We have to take care of the vendors. The question comes up who should be responsible for the vendors?” Board Member Gary Petersen said, “Who should control the vendors is a separate issue we shouldn’t have to get involved in. The flea market is clearly a part of the culture of Eastern Market and we should support it.”
Board Member Elizabeth Nelson said she wasn’t sure the CHRS should take sides without assessing the impact on the “brick and mortar” businesses on the block. Her concerns were shared by Board Member Shauna Holmes.
For the first time in the public debate, the issue of compensation for the “brick and mortar” merchants was raised. Burger noted, “We need more ammo to get compensation for the brick and mortar merchants.” It was unclear what he was referring to, but it is known that the brick and mortar merchants are formulating a position on the street closure at the request of ANC6B. As a representative of CHAMPS, Burger is a likely participant or coordinator of that effort. It is also noteworthy that one of the Hine developers, Stanton Development, owns several of the buildings housing the “brick and mortar” merchants on the block.
At the September meeting of the ANC, Commissioner Brian Pate announced he would postpone until October his resolution requesting closure of the street during the Hine construction period, in order to give the merchants on 7th Street an opportunity to have input on the proposed street closure. ANC6B has been at odds with EMCAC over the closure, with the ANC trying to provide some protection for the current flea market managers, and EMCAC trying to put the flea market under the control of the Eastern Market manager.
Although the CHRS Board evidently desires to stay out of the question of who controls the vendors, in effect, if the city closes the street by Mayoral order, the Department of General Services – and thus, the Eastern Market manager – will control the vending on the closed street, which is the position EMCAC has been advocating.
The consensus of the Board was that no vote was necessary to proceed, and the further consensus was that a letter would be drafted and circulated for consideration by email after the meeting.