Brick and Mortar Merchants Oppose Weekend Closure of 7th After Hine Construction – Want Tax Break While Hine Project Gets Built
by Larry Janezich
Some 30 brick and mortar merchants on the 200 and 300 block of 7th Street SE will support closure of 7th street during the construction of the Hine project, but not beyond. Perhaps remembering this dismal effect of construction of street car lines on H Street on some businesses located there, the 7th street merchants are proposing they receive a tax break to compensate them for the proposed weekend closure of the 7th Street to accommodate the flea markets. .
Their position was made public last Tuesday night, when the ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee considered a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Brian Pate to support closure of the 300 block of 7th Street, SE, on weekends during the construction of the Hine development for the vending. The resolution recommends coordinating with Eastern Market and the brick and mortar businesses on the 200 and 300 blocks of 7th Street, and calls for a fair, open and legal contracting process in any operation of market activities on the street done through the Department of General Services or Eastern Market. The resolution states that revenues from vending activity resulting from the closure will become part of the revenue stream of Eastern Market. The Planning and Zoning Committee voted 10-0 to forward the resolution to the full ANC and recommended expedited consideration at the October meeting next Tuesday night.
The resolution was an about face from an earlier version, also offered by Pate, which failed to pass the committee in September. That version explicitly moved the current flea market managers to the head of the line of prospective flea market operators.
ANC6B candidate Steve Holtzman spoke in support of the current operators, saying that they know how to run the businesses and there is no other strategy for keeping the flea markets running. Pate responded that the resolution under consideration was driven by what is possible to get through the committee.
The resolution was in response to a request from the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Planning for ANC6B’s opinion regarding the application of the current flea market operators – Mike Berman and Carol Wright – to close the street during the construction period in order to locate the flea markets there.
Berman later expressed his disappointment with the measure, saying that the sole priority of the resolution is to assure Eastern Market has control of the flea markets. He said of the committee’s action, “They would rather twist the proposed Eastern Market legislation (which also would give preference to the current operators) than acknowledge the communities’ strong desire for the flea markets to continue in a vastly reduce state.”
The full ANC6B meets Tuesday night at 7:00pm in Hill Center. In the wake of the stalled Eastern Market legislation and the various unknowns involved in the Hine construction process, there is no clear vision yet for how the weekend flea markets, a much beloved neighborhood institution, will be sustained.