The Week Ahead… & Whose Ox is Being Gored on Opening/Closing 7th Street? – It’s Complicated

Some 30 residents and stakeholders came to Tuesday night’s EMCAC meeting to voice opinions on the status of 7th Street. Here, Union Market’s Bill Glasgow urges the city to open 7th Street to vehicular traffic on weekends.

The Week Ahead… & Whose Ox is Being Gored on Opening/Closing 7th Street? – It’s Complicated

by Larry Janezich

The Week Ahead is Quiet.

And in Other News….

Whose Ox is Being Gored on Opening/Closing 7th Street? – It’s Complicated

by Larry Janezich

Last Tuesday night, the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee met in Eastern Market’s North Hall to continue receiving comment on whether the 200 and 300 blocks of 7th Street should remain closed to weekend vehicular traffic.

It’s complicated.  It’s not just a simple matter of who will be helped or hurt by opening the street, but, rather, a question of whose ox is being gored.

The food merchants in Eastern Market’s South Hall predict the demise of the food market within ten years if measures are not taken to mitigate the lack of vehicular access to the market, including opening of 7th Street to traffic on weekends.  Some of the most active voices on this issue are long-time merchants who have built product lines based on the desires of long term customers, many of whom no longer live in the neighborhood and must drive to the market.

The Eastern Market outside arts and crafts merchants who set up on the 200 block of 7th outside Eastern Market see their livelihoods threatened if the street is open to traffic, which would result in their displacement and relocation to less trafficked areas.   Artist-vendor Joe Snyder says that appealing to the Hill’s new population is the only way forward and sees the controversy as symptomatic of “what trouble we’re having in reaching out to this new population”.

But those same arts and crafts vendors, while supporting the continued closure of 7th Street, do not want to see additional flea market vendors occupying space on the 300 block of 7th Street if the street remains closed to traffic.

A long time vendor on Eastern Market’s North Plaza says that her income has dropped precipitously because there are so many vendors siphoning the dollars of shoppers before they get to her jewelry stand at the north end of Eastern Market, and adding more vendors (if 7th Street remains closed) will only make it more difficult.  That sentiment is shared by the arts and craft folk on the 200 block.

The managers of the two separate flea markets which set up on the 300 block of 7th Street who are scheduled to move to the newly reopened C Street in the middle of the Hine Project want to continue to use the 300 block on 7th Street after the move to restore the number of vendors they had when they were on the Hine playground.  (Ed. note: A previous version of this paragraph lead some readers to believe the flea market managers want to expand their markets beyond the original number rather than restore their original number of spaces.  For flea market manager Mike Berman’s response to that interpretation, see his comment below.)  They urge keeping the street closed, but  seem prepared to fight any attempt by Eastern Market and the Department of General Services to bring in other flea market managers to compete with their flea markets should the city decide to keep 7th closed.  Expansion of the flea markets to include both C Street and the 300 block would not be welcomed by the vendors on the 200 block of 7th.

And then there are those who urge not rushing a decision without knowing what the consequences will be.  Former EMCAC Chair Ellen Opper-Weiner says, “We can’t make a decision in a vacuum – there’s been no study, no evaluation.”  Community activist Bobbi Krengel said that the Project for Public Space (PPS) could do just such a study.  Krengel noted that “Eastern Market is a synergistic market and none of the components can exist by itself,” and that the most important component is the historic municipal market.

ANC6B Commissioner Diane Hoskins, in whose single member district the Market lies, had the final word at the meeting, saying that she was on the record supporting the continued closure of 7th Street on weekends, adding, “…a lively open market is crucial to the success of all parts of the market.”  Capitol Hill Corner reported last week that Councilmember Charles Allen supports continued closure.

EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder announced that the EMCAC’s record will remain open until Tuesday, August 22, for comments on 7th Street.  Email

ANC6B will meet at 7:30pm on Tuesday, August 29 in Hill Center, to allow residents and stakeholders a final opportunity to make public comments on the status of 7th Street.

For previous postings on this issue, see here:


Filed under Uncategorized

13 responses to “The Week Ahead… & Whose Ox is Being Gored on Opening/Closing 7th Street? – It’s Complicated

  1. Predictions of the demise of the South Hall Food Market within 10 years are disturbing to everyone who loves Eastern Market. But anyone in any business anywhere could be out of business in 10 years if they are not alert or choose to intransigent. If they not only refuse to take credit cards, at a time when fewer and fewer carry cash, but double down in their commitment to cash only. If they not only refuse to find opportunities in the change around them, but expend all their energy defying the change itself.

    The dilemma lies in the contradiction of an institution valued for its timeless character and a timely world around it. Lashing out at immediate neighbors and weekend partners is not a fruitful response; in fact, it may be a damaging response. Evolution of the food entrepreneurs, does not necessarily mean the erosion of the food market.

    • John

      Well stated, Joe. Vendors need to recognize that accepting credit cards is a must, being open on Mondays is a must, and being open past 7:00 PM is a must. Many area residents are happy to pay a little bit more for better products at Eastern Market than, say, a big grocery store chain, but the vendors at Eastern Market need to make it easy for residents to be their customers.

    • muskellunge

      What vendors do not take credit cards?

      • Brian Butters

        Bowers Cheese and Market Lunch for two.

      • muskellunge

        Hmm, the Cheese Place and Market Lunch.

        The Cheese place isn’t going anywhere because some folks think it is the best in DC (but not me). Regarding Market Lunch, the line goes out the door and down the street.

        Since everybody else does take credit, your argument does not amount to much — what then is the issue? I don’t see how the “demise of the South Hall Food Market” is imminent.

  2. Brian Butters

    How many of the underground parking spots at the Hine Project will be available to the general public on weekends? These parking spots could be used for people going to the Market and also for people going to restaurants on 8th Street.

  3. Larry Once again you are stating false assumptions as truths. As I very clearly explained to you on the phone, the flea market’s requested retention of 300 block of 7th street and the addition of the C St plaza does not constitute an expansion. The Flea Market at Eastern Market, as you recall from the facts presented at the zoning hearings, had 104 vending spaces inside the Hines Schoolyard. There is now on 7th Street, 36 vending spaces, and that would be reduced further in any future configuration. The C St plaza, despite Stanton-Eastbancs contention that it can hold 68 spaces, in fact cannot. Even 50 spaces, while perhaps possible on a drawing, is logistically impossible. 40 spaces is the optimum amount that provides access and pedestrian flow for vendors and businesses on C Street. Thus The Flea Market at Eastern Market had forcibly reduced its vending by two-thirds and will never fully recover to the amount we had. We have no way to expand beyond what we had for many years. There are dozens of our longtime participants that have been waiting 3 years to perhaps return, while attrition has also reduced the list of previous vendors. And the same is true for Eastern Market. The market did not expand onto the 200 block of 7th street. Vendors were displaced. The North Hall is no longer available for vending. Farmers have expanded. The food court at the Natatorium expanded. The non-food vending, as best as I can determine, has not. What new exhibitors have been brought in, have replaced the ones they lost due to attrition or other reasons. Larry, professional and proper management of vending, to assure quality, optimal pedestrian flow, access, safety and sightlines, are essential to a successful market. Every business can survive, and in fact, thrive in the future, handled right, with communication and collaboration across all parties and with the brick & mortar businesses impacted. There is no reason for one group of businesses to blame another for its perceived loss of revenue. Lets look at the real issues, and solve for them. A closed-to-vehicles 7th street with vibrant and active vending is not a detriment, its an incredible asset: to all businesses, to the community and to the city as a whole. Michael Berman

    President | Diverse Markets Management | 202.215.6993 | @DMMevents

    The Flea Market at Eastern Market

    Every Sunday | 7th & Penn. DC | | @FleaMarketatEMk


    2nd & 4th Fridays | 4th & M SW | | @market_sw


  4. Hillman

    The food hall needs to red vision itself to survive. It’s not the 1940s. The neighborhood has transformed and the market needs to do the same. It’s not a matter of parking for a few septuagenarians living in PG County. Bowers Dairy can’t compete with Trader Joe’s or two nearby Whole Foods unless it follows the model of a Cheeseteque in Del Ray. There are two produce vendors, two poultry vendors and two butchers. Meanwhile there is little in the way of prepared foods other than sandwiches and some baked goods. Carts making uninspired crepes and bad Filipino food aren’t sustainable. Port City, Vigilante and Peregrine (nevermind Starbucks and Bourbon) aren’t sustainable with Union Market got it right.

  5. Bobbi Krengel

    This nightmarish scenario is exactly the community’s biggest fear at the time the RFP process for the Hine site was being played out, which is why the single biggest priority nearly unanimously expressed at those pseudo charrettes/placebo “public participation” meetings was adequate open public space for the flea markets on the Hine site. Not move the flea markets into the street, not relocate the flea markets off-site– space for the flea markets on the Hine site.
    The early drawings and presentations of multiple proposals highlighted the flea markets with beautiful renderings showing landscaped “piazzas” with flowing tents and colorful wares. Those of us who attended those placebo process charade charrettes believed our input was being noted, and we dutifully studied and debated layouts and square footage. Little did we know the fix was already in downtown for the biggest campaign contributors, and that DMPED would do its dirty work of delivering on payoffs behind closed doors. Once the deal was inked, it was simply a matter of carving away at that space little by little with each iteration, like turning up the heat once the frog is in the pot, distracting the community with promises of bling, and setting the stakeholders against each other with temptations of swag.
    A presentation by the Project for Public Spaces at the Hine auditorium in January 2008 said essentially that these vestigial municipal fresh food markets survive only when situated within a healthy market district. This is a complex organism within an ecosystem and none of its organs–the interior vendors, farmers’ line, arts & crafts, flea markets, and the bricks-and-mortar shops of “Market Row”–would survive by itself. Encouraging cannibalization by turning vendors against each other and bickering about business models is not the answer. I urge DGS and the mayor to bring in an expert such as the Project for Public Spaces now. And heed its advice.

    • kandc

      Your last two sentences make me laugh (sardonically). In each of those meetings (and I attended all of them0 I and one other person, repeatedly stood up and suggested that we get in a good, unbiased urban planner to look at the space and give recommendations. We were roundly ignored by everyone and especially those enamored of Amy Weinstein. We had our chances and dismissed them. Live with it.

      • Bobbi Krengel

        So did I, Kandc, and remember the same thing. I dismissed nothing, however. I wrote and testified at ZC; and the 8th Street neighbors did indeed band together and hired a well-respected urban planner, George Oberlander, whose report, completely contradicting OP’s, [which was likely adopted from whole cloth written by the applicant], fell on deaf ears; and his testimony was blatantly disrespected at the ZC hearings. They pretty much waited it out and then called “next”. I think its important to understand the cause of the problem.

  6. kandc

    Personally I like the feel of the closure as is, but I would be willing to look at alternatives and accept less closings. Without going into all the pros and cons about the flea market (see above, and bigger is not always better) and the indoor market, or the shrinking outdoor farmers’ market, how about thinking about closing only the 200 block of Seventh (leaving open C Street going west for left turns from Seventh) along with STRICTLY ENFORCED (maybe by authorized volunteers) 30 minute parking in the alley between Eastern Market and the Natatorium, to allow people to drive to the Market, buy, load and leave.

  7. C

    Instead of blaming road closures or other sellers, perhaps the flea market vendors should do a little self-reflection on any flagging sales… I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 9 years and have watched several good vendors disappear. I now go straight for the produce/meat counters because all of the craft/’antique’ dealers have been selling the exact same things for 9 years. I’m so sick of the same old onesies, twisted wire earrings, recycled soda can giraffes, painted tin tiles, vegetable peelers (and tutus?!), ‘vintage’ maps, and kitchy switch plate covers. I hope that the new space attracts some new blood, because it is sorely needed.