Edens & Avant, the developer that is working on a remake of the Capital City Market in the District, had a pretty bad week last month.
On Oct. 14, a Friday, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided some of the vendors at the Northeast D.C. market,
whose pseudonyms include Florida Avenue Market, Union Market and D.C. Farmer’s Market. Officials arrested 11 people for selling bootlegged or knock-off merchandise. The agency says it seized 18,640 counterfeit items valued at early $3 million.
Not a week later, on Oct 20, a fire ravaged the building, 1309 Fifth St., displacing the shops, wholesalers and other businesses located there.
Harriette Lesznar, one of the owners of the meat shop Harvey’s Market, said that her family had insurance but wasn’t sure how or where the store could re-open. “We have insurance, you know, for the meantime, but we’re considering other properties,” she said.
Lesznar said when she heard about the fire, she initially thought of arson. “It’s very sketchy how it started,” she said.
That was the same concern at the Edens & Avant offices. The developer, which is behind the Mosaic District, in Merrifield, is working on a remake of the market that will tie into its history and hired chef Richard Brandenburg over the summer to direct its “culinary strategy.”
But Steven C. Boyle, an Edens managing director, said that after hearing from fire officials he is convinced the fire wasn’t set. “I’m like 99 percent [sure] it was an electrical thing,” he said.
Boyle said the best news was that no one was hurt; the next step is figuring out what to do with the building. Boyle said he is still waiting to hear cost estimates on making repairs, but that the building needs to be completely gutted and it will be months before it can welcome back tenants. “There is significant damage,” he said.
Meanwhile, the city’s response to the fire has become a political issue.
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