Eastern Market Report – June 2017

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The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) met on May 31st with a pending Eastern Market appraisal drawing their full attention. This one hundred and forty page document, prepared by Marcus Asset Group, a long-time District appraisal company, has as its goal the determination of a fair market rental rate and will likely form the basis of the long sought South Hall merchant leases.

Market Manager’s Report
Barry Margeson, Market Manager, reported that income in the months of March and April had soared in the North Hall; he did not offer any particular reason for the “jump” in booked events and significantly improved revenues.

North Hall revenue soared from $14,178 in March to $38,070 in April, one of the best months in the North Hall’s existence. Overall Market revenues for April were $98, 259 up from March’s $60,926, and if annualized are on a pace to double Market revenue of past years.

The North Hall’s schedule is a balance of high end revenue events as well as a legislatively required minimal cost for community use. There are thirty two events booked for the month of June.

South Hall Leases
According to Margeson, ”We have received the preliminary report from the Appraiser that we will provide to the EMCAC for review. Feedback from EMCAC will be incorporated in the comments that the Department of General Services provides the Appraiser.” A draft copy of the lease has been given to the South Hall merchants less the not yet agreed upon and negotiated rental rates.

In the ensuing brief but decidedly heated lease discussion, Bill Glasgow, owner of Union Meats, a market tenant since 1946, asked Margeson whether or not the South Hall merchants were going to receive a direct response to the two pages of questions they had submitted to the Marcus Group.

Margeson initially responded that he was planning to respond to their queries, but Glasgow insisted this was inappropriate and that he was “protesting” this indirect response to merchant’s concerns. “That’s what they are supposed to do” Glasgow responded referring to the appraisal group, his voice rising: “That’s what they do. The appraisers should provide the answers. They asked us questions and we answered them. Now we want answers.”

Chair Donna Scheeder entered the discussion, supporting Glasgow by pointing out that both EMCAC and the merchants had questions of the appraisers. With Margeson demurring , Scheeder continued: “We want answers from the appraisers. Even if we don’t like them.“

The appraisers report for which all members of EMCAC have pledged confidentiality has been delivered to members of EMCAC. Scheeder called an Executive Meeting for June 14th to assess their conclusions and weigh in on the report.

The DGS-ordered appraisal is tasked with analyzing the value of fair market rent at Eastern Market. This is the last piece of the long-sought-for lease for the South Hall merchants. South Hall merchants have been without leases for nearly twenty years. South Hall merchants pay rent in a range from $25-32 per square foot.

This appraisal, no matter its recommendations, faces a number of difficult hurdles inasmuch as the Eastern Market is a “public market” and has legislative restrictions (DC code 37, 101-113) as a market with a public purpose and bound by the Eastern Market legislation of 1999.

Preserving the historic character and atmosphere of Eastern Market and the Eastern Market Square is a vital provision of the legislation.

In its search for competitive balance the appraisal process must consider that there are now 17 new or upgraded grocery stores in the District as well as the hugely successful Union Market which is almost wholly a limited service, prepared food market.

Comparisons with other prominent city markets weaken in that the Eastern Market has only 12 dedicated spaces for parking to accommodate the 25-30 thousand visitors each weekend. Nationally all other public and private markets no matter their structure have adequate parking arrangements that allow for growth and access.

Any appraisal must also weigh that the District has offered (as have almost all other jurisdictions around the country) a number of tax breaks and a variety of subsidies including lower rents to lure or buttress business in this age of economic ferocity.

Hine Update
ANC6B02 Commissioner Diane Hoskins reported that the Hine project is in its final days “that the cones are down and the sidewalk along lower 7th St is closed for work and landscaping.” The estimated time for completion is four weeks. The “new C St is in its final stretches” according to Hoskins and she announced the securing of new tenants: District Veterinary Hospital, Trickling Streams creamery and Antiocha with its high-end linens.

A recent article in the Washington Business Journal reports negotiations with Sephora, a cosmetic and skin care retailer. Plans are in the works for a fitness center, a fast food operation and a sit down restaurant. Prominent among the secured tenants are the 11,000 square feet of Trader Joe’s.

Stanton Development, the Hine developer, has yet to make its parking plans public other than its decade-old pledge to provide parking to Eastern Market customers. This pledge was critical in helping Stanton secure the development rights.

Pot Luck supper at the North Hall
Market Manager Margeson announced a Wednesday July 19th date for the fourth annual Potluck Supper in the North Hall. This previously successful community event begins at 7 p.m. and is free to friends and neighbors. Just bring your favorite dish or a dessert as early as 6:45 the evening of the event. Email Margeson at barry.margeson@dc.gov to let him know what you are bringing and how many are in your party. The North Hall can seat 200. Music will be provided.