Report Suggests Unified Management for Market

Posted February 15, 2008 at 5:07pm

The D.C. Office of Property Management on Thursday released a draft solicitation for new management of Eastern Market accompanied by a report recommending that a single entity handle the management responsibilities.

At present, the flea market and craft vendors are managed by two different companies — an arrangement that has caused conflict. The request for proposals advises OPM to find a way to put all of these management responsibilities under one umbrella.

The report also lays out several recommendations for the process of finding a new management team. One guideline stipulates that if OPM cannot find a new manager by July 1, it may take on the management role for an interim period. The report also advises OPM to consult with the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee while making its decision.

The documents are the result of research and a public meeting conducted last month by David O’Neil, a senior associate for public markets at the Project for Public Spaces, a New York-based architecture and urban planning company. O’Neil formerly managed the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.

“Despite the tragedy of the recent fire, Eastern Market is entering a ‘golden age,’” O’Neil wrote in the report. “But there is a huge amount of work that must be done to ensure that the market retains its character and its central place on Capitol Hill and for the Washington area. Our goal in this draft was to call out the range of skills and experience that will be needed to make Eastern Market a success over the long term.”

Donna Scheeder, EMCAC chairman, noted that many vendors expressed displeasure with the market’s current management, Eastern Market Ventures, even before the fire last April.

The most common merchant request, she said, is for a management company that would have representatives on site more frequently. “All in all, I think the meetings were very successful,” she said.

The RFP will be open for public comment for the next several weeks.

“By the end of the month, we’ll have comment from the [Advisory Neighborhood Commission] and EMCAC and then we’ll be able to evaluate the comments,” said Matt Hussman, Eastern Market coordinator at OPM. “We haven’t exactly set the schedule yet. We anticipate the final RFP will go out early to mid-March.”

Robin-Eve Jasper, interim director of OPM, said the office would like to gather feedback from all parties involved in the market. “We want the best possible RFP to attract the best possible proposals,” she said in a statement.