On Oct. 25, The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) came out forcefully the suggested rent increases proposed by the Market landlord, the Department of General Services.
DGS-ordered appraisals recommended substantial rent increases to both the South Hall merchants as well as the weekend privately owned flea markets who have been operating temporarily on lower 7th St. In response, EMCAC is calling for a legal opinion by the Inspector General of DGS on the 1999 legislation which placed strict caps on merchant’s rent.
The appraisal calls for the doubling and at times near tripling of the merchants rents. However the legislatively mandated Eastern Market law (DC code 37.107) allows for no more than a 102% of CPI limit on annual rent increase.
The South Hall merchants have disputed the appraisal and are ordering a second appraisal. Complicating this is a requirement of DGS that the “same statement of work” be applied in the hiring of a second appraiser. The “same statement of work” requires using the same data and process as the initial MAG appraisal and would call into question any independence in its conclusions.
EMCAC has voted to unanimously reject any “timelines and requirements for the South Hall merchants to provide a second appraisal until we have a legal opinion clarifying how the city can establish a new baseline when there is a cap on rent increases in the legislation.
EMCAC also unanimously rejected the appraisal report for the 300 block of Seventh St. SE which increased rents for the flea market operators on the grounds that the whole Special Use Area must be appraised; that their advisory responsibilities were ignored; and that the report was not received in a timely way in order to provide any advice.
“We reject everything about this and its process” said Scheeder.
At a special meeting with EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder and Vice Chair Chuck Burger with Councilmember Charles Allen and DGS Director Greer Gillis, Councilmember Allen affirmed that the Eastern Market is a ‘public good’ and he is willing to find money in the DC budget for whatever the Market needs.