City Backs Off Take Over of Flea Markets at Eastern Market
by Larry Janezich
After the city announced its takeover of the Flea Markets at Eastern Market on August 12 (as first reported on CHC here: http://bit.ly/1UJdifH ) city officials have decided to retain the status quo.
An email from Eastern Market Manager Barry Margeson today announced the decision as follows: “DGS, in consultation with the Mayor’s Office, has determined that the District will re-sign license agreements with the two entities currently serving as Flea Market Managers for the 300 block flea markets at Eastern Market. Their current licenses expire this month.”
The reconsideration apparently came after the intervention of the Mayor’s office.
Diversified Market Management Director Mike Berman – operator of the Sunday Flea Market on the 300 block of 7th Street, SE, told CHC that he had learned of the city’s decision in a phone conversation this morning with representatives of the Department of General Services. He said that he had been told that DGS had decided to grant a six month extension of the license, during which time a longer one year extension would be worked out.
Berman said that the agreement “doesn’t excuse their behavior. We’ll take what we can get and get back to business as usual. We collected more than five hundred signatures to oppose the city’s move. I’m grateful that we did not have to go to the next (legal) level.” He added, “I think this is a good first step. I look forward to reviewing, with our counsel, attorney Donald Temple, the contract extension DGS has promised to us by September 14.”
On Friday, August 14, Mayor Bowser named Retired US Navy Rear Admiral Christopher E. Weaver new Director of the Department of General Services. Interim Director Johathon Kayne, under whose watch the initial decision on taking over the flea markets was made, is transitioning to DGS Chief Operating Officer.
It was also under Kayne that DGS – apparently succumbing to substantial unhappiness in Hill East at DGS’ handling of the development of the Boys and Girls Club – withdrew the Request for Proposal for development of the site after the original RFP was written is a way that precluded financing by private equity firms, and the only bid which seemed to meet the RFP requirements was a proposal by Dante’s Partners for a Low Income Housing Tax Credit project which envisioned mini units for seniors. The neighborhood had expressed a strong preference for a mixed income housing facility.