A steering committee consisting of representatives of 14 community groups has been named to help guide an $80,000 study of the future of the century-old Eastern Market at 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue SE.
Selected by the Municipal Planning Office after extensive consultations with the community, the groups to be represented are Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 6B, 2D and 6A, Capitol East Housing Coalition, Eastern Market Coalition, Capitol Hill Restoration Society, Market Five Gallery, the Eastern Market merchants, Barracks Row Association, Market Row Association, Capitol Hill Group Ministry, Friendship House, Eastern Market Pottery, and merchants along Pennsylvania Avenue near the market.
The role of the steering committee, as outlined by MPO officials at a meeting two weeks ago, will be to channel community opinion into the study and to keep citizens informed of its progress. The committee will also advise the city on the selection of a consultant to prepare the study.
The planning office will advertise a request for consultants to submit proposals during the week of Oct. 9 and plans to make a final selection during the first week in December. The consultant selected will then have six months to prepare a series of reports on the physical condition and economics of the Eastern Market and recommendations on its development, managements and future uses. The consultant will also prepare a plan to link adjacent commercial streets - 7th Street, 8th Street and Pennslyvania. Avenue - with the market.
MPO officials have indicated that the study would include full consideration of both commercial and cultural uses of the North Hall, now used as an art gallery and made available to performing arts groups, and the mezzanine, currently occupied by a pottery workshoP.
This aspect of the study is expected to arouse controversy because some groups represented on the steering committee don't want the study to consider using the North Hall as additional market space. City officials will present the final draft of the request for consultants' proposals to the committee next week.
Another important issue the study will deal with is the future character of the market - whether it should continue to be primarily a neighborhood shopping center or become more of a tourist attraction like the Quincy Market in Boston.
The study will also examine the management of the market and outline alternatives used in other cities. At present the city leases on market to Charles Glasgow, a fish and meat dealer who uses part of the space himself and subleases the rest to other vendors.
Built in 1870, the Eastern Market is the sole survivor of three farmers' markets envisioned in the original L'Enfant Plan for the city. The others - the Western Market and the Center Market - have been demolished.