ANC Special Call Meeting Takes Place Tuesday to Discuss Future Status of Seventh Street SE

Commission Will Hear Public Comment Before Making Recommendation on Opening or Closure of Street to Weekend Traffic

View from C Street SE of the Saturday Flea Market on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE. A Special Call meeting of ANC 6B Tuesday August 29th will discuss the future status of the street closure after the Hine Project is completed this fall. Photo: Elizabeth O'Gorek

An ANC 6B Special Call Meeting to consider the future status of Seventh Street SE will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 29th. The meeting is the third public meeting to consider the topic this month.

ANC 6B Chair Chander Jayaraman (6B08) welcomed all who wished to attend, and said that he was looking forward to hearing public comment. "This is a very important issue in the community," he said, "that is why we have called this meeting."

The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) held two public hearings earlier this month on whether or not the 200 and 300 blocks of Seventh Street –the site of three outdoor markets – should remain closed to weekend traffic after the Hine School Project is complete. Sources indicate that the Project is expected to be completed as early as September 30 and as late as October 31.

South Hall fresh food merchants say the closure of the street to traffic and parking has severely affected their business, and they had been waiting with increasing anxiety until the street re-opened.

Fresh food merchants also argue that the market is intended by statute to preserve the market’s role as a fresh food market and that the street closure would jeopardize the preservation of that historic legacy.

They argue that the street closure was supposed to be a temporary accommodation for vendors displaced after the 2007 Eastern Market fire and by construction on the Hine Project, which began in 2015. Space to accommodate the flea markets on the 700 block of C Street SE and an adjacent plaza was incorporated into plans for the development.

William Glasgow of Union Meat said that his business had significantly decreased over the last three years. “I’m not talking about one or three percent, either,” he said. “And this last year the decrease has been tremendous.”

He said many of the fresh food merchants are barely holding on.

Flea Market vendors on the two blocks of Seventh Street SE argue that the closure would eliminate many of their businesses completely, especially those located on the 200 block of Seventh Street SE.

At the second EMCAC meeting on the topic, painter Pridon Goisashvili described how after moving to America from the Republic of Georgia, he lost his job in the recession of 2008. He has been selling his art at the weekend market on the 200 block of Seventh Street SE ever since. 

He said his business was growing and that he was grateful for the opportunity. He is the sole supporter of his wife and two children, aged 2 and 9, he added.

“I take it personally they are telling me after the nine years that I invested here, ‘now we need to open the streets, so you need to go’,” he said.

Carol Wright of Washington Arts, Antiques, Crafts & Collectible Associates (WAACA), operates the Saturday flea market on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE. She said that she had up to 155 spaces on the Hine School site, and 67 on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE, later reduced to 37 for construction needs. There will be 67 on the 700 block of C Street SE in the Hine Project when that space is complete. Wright says as a result many vendors have been waiting to return to the market may not have a space.

She also said she had a contract with the Department of General Services (DGS), which manages Eastern Market, to be on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE until October 30. If the Hine School Project is complete by the end of September, the flea markets might be on both blocks for a month.

“If the community decides that the 300 block will be closed, I have been told it will be open to bidders,” she said. “I will be vehemently opposing this. I believe that the two markets that have been there for 27 years are the only markets that should be here, at least in the short term.”

Storefront businesses along Seventh Street SE have asked for more information, saying they have concerns regarding the possibility of vendors who might compete with their brick and mortar businesses. Currently, a coffee vendor sells at the Sunday Flea Market on the 300 block, directly across the street from no less than three dedicated brick-and-mortar coffee shops.

Roberta Blanchard, operator of Fairy Godmother Toys, noted that she felt unable to offer an opinion on the continued closure of the street in front of her shop without knowing who would manage it and how it would be set up, adding that the future tenants of the Hine Project were likely to have their own opinions on the matter.

The ANC Special Call meeting on the future of Seventh Street SE takes place 7:30 p.m. Tuesday August 29 in the Frager’s Conference Room, 3rd Floor, at The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). All are welcome to attend. Comments can also be submitted by email to 6b@anc.dc.gov


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