Eastern Market Meeting Review

Eastern Market Meeting Review 

The DC Office of Property Management (OPM) hosted a “community workshop” on Eastern Market last Thursday at Hine JHS. Although OPM did its usual execrable job of public outreach,  about 40 or 50 people attended, not a bad turn-out given the poor weather. Vendors, artists, merchants, neighbors, the EMCAC official advisory group, and ANC members attended.

The event, conducted by the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces (PPS), was ostensibly an opportunity to gauge community reaction to the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the expiring market management contract, currently held by Eastern Market Ventures (EMV), but specifics of the two-inch-thick draft RFP document were not forthcoming.

The PPS slide show and talk on the state of U.S. municipal markets was entertaining, but inaccurate on Eastern Market details and neglected discussion of the North Hall, the one-third of the Market legally reserved for arts, cultural and community events. Some interesting general points were raised about good market management, enough to make it clear that Eastern Market has had nothing like that in the last half-dozen years.

Only 30 minutes were devoted to Q and A, with many comments correcting the slide show, others that would have been obviated by a 60-second summary of the RFP approval process, especially the opportunity for public comment after the preliminary decision. Remaining audience members then wandered around the stage pasting adhesive dots on questionnaire posters, answering a half-dozen pre-conceived “on-a-scale-of-1-to-4” questions about priorities which, again, completely ignored the one-third of the market building devoted to the arts.

Acting OPM chief Robin-Eve Jasper surely got a taste of the neighborhood’s passion for the market.

Points of interest:

  • Everyone urged OPM to prepare a contingency plan for direct, interim management of Eastern Market if the RFP award is delayed for any reason. No one wants EMV in place a minute longer than contractually necessary.
  • PPS urged periodic performance review which would allow immediate cancellation of the management contract if “benchmarks” were not met.
  • While some Eastern Market advocates are worried about competition from the Harris-Teeter supermarket under construction a few blocks away, it is the dozen USDA markets in a dozen DC neighborhoods that are the real competitive threat, since they bring fresh produce within walking distance of people who might otherwise have been steady Eastern Market customers. PPS says USDA markets have killed newly-revived central markets in other U.S. cities.
  • PPS says tourists are the greatest threat to viable fresh food markets; they crowd the facilities but buy nothing. PPS is working on “de-touristing” plans for other markets; let’s hope we can get input on this issue.

USDA

Top image by Mike Licht; bottom photo, USDA.

 

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3 Responses to “Eastern Market Meeting Review”

  1. Keith Says:

    Great article and love the site keep up the good work….thanks republicpm [dot] com

  2. Eastern Market, Annapolis, and Site Realty « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] of the strongest recomendations to emerge from last week’s community meeting on Eastern Market management was that the city be prepared to manage Eastern Market directly in the […]

  3. Eastern Market — Fresh Hours, Stale Management « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] legal and procurement channels, and this has put the process behind schedule. A community meeting in January had called for OPM to take over direct management of Eastern Market rather than extend […]

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