Eastern Market Metro Plaza Redesign on Track for Completion by End of Next Year
By Larry Janezich
DGS Project Manager Cassidy Mullen told residents at the fourth community meeting on the redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza that he expected the $15 million project to be complete at the end of 2021. Construction will start this December-January and will take 12 months. He said that the current plan is for the Capitol Hill BID to assume responsibility for maintaining and programming the plaza, a model which has worked elsewhere in the city. Councilmember Charles Allen, who was present, pledged to provide funding in future budgets to create a sound plan for maintenance and upkeep.
Allen opened up Wednesday night’s meeting, announcing that he had been successful in providing an additional $7 million in budget authority, which when added to the previously authorized $8 million, fully funds the redesign of all six parcels of the project. “The whole idea,” he reminded residents, “is to make the plaza a place to walk to, rather than walk through.” He said that the engagement of the community had “absolutely” made it a better project.
Maybe not everyone felt that way, since the DGS Advisory Committee of community stakeholders has been vocal in expressing the feeling that DGS had given their input short shrift. In addition, ANC6B has been largely left out of the process.
Still, Mullen presented the community with a nearly final design of the project which is in the stage of preparing the schematic plans for blue prints, a process which should be wrapped up in August. The permitting process will begin in and continue through the Fall of 2019.
Mullen says work will begin simultaneously on parcel 1 – the playground – and parcel 4 – the metro entrance. The distinguishing feature of the latter will be a bousque of shade trees with movable tables and chairs beneath. The entertainment pavilion hoped for by the Advisory Committee is on life support, with an assurance by Mullen that if the community expresses a strong preference for it (apparently evidenced by feedback on the online survey that went up on the DGS website Wednesday night at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EMMP2019) he would take the idea to the Commission on Fine Arts which, he noted, has resisted building permanent structures as part of the redesign. A couple of residents raised questions about the effect of an entertainment venue on nearby residents and on passing traffic.
The next community meeting will be in the Fall at a date to be announced.