Friday, May 15, 2009

Eastern Market Set for Grand Reopening in June

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced yesterday that Eastern Market, Southeast Washington’s famed and historically protected marketplace that was damaged by a fire in April 2007, will re-open – with much fanfare – on Friday, June 26th. The surprise pronouncement of the restoration’s completion came at the end of a tour of the facility, led by Office of Property Management (OPM) Administrator Curtis Clay, that highlighted the $22 million worth of both new and soon-to-be restored features in the works for the area landmark.

The development team – led by OPM, along with Quinn Evans Architects, the Minkoff Company, Keystone Plus Construction, FEI Construction and The Temple Group – plans to reinstate the North Hall’s former use a center for community activity and arts events with a new demountable stage and dance floor. Meanwhile, Fenty stressed that all of Eastern Market’s original vendors will return to their former locations in the building’s Southern Hall, while their temporary home across the street will be repurposed for an as-of-yet undesignated community use.

Additionally, Eastern Market’s basement level will feature a newly relocated pottery studio and, in a first for the 138-year-old complex, new amenities which will include air conditioning and separate men’s and women’s restrooms. OPM was also quick to point out a newly-installed sprinkler system, with the hope that it will prevent the type of incident that led to the market’s shuttering for two plus years.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who was absent from the afternoon’s proceedings due to a family illness, released the following statement via press release:

"I’m thrilled that Eastern Market is on the verge of reopening. The devastating fire was a blow to our whole community, but the way in which the city rallied around the Market as more than just a building proved how important it is to the fabric of our neighborhood."

That neighborhood will be able to celebrate the project’s completion en masse the day after the ribbon-cutting. Fenty, who called the market a “sparkplug” of community activity, went on to announce that a celebration will be held on Saturday, June 27th along the newly refurbished and soon-to-be reopened 7th Street, SE, which abuts the eastern face of the market.

According to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, “[OPM] and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) worked together to minimize disruptions and complete projects simultaneously. The new street includes upgrades of the roadway and roadbed and installation of new brick sidewalks, granite curbs, utilities and lighting.” The street will be open to traffic Monday through Friday, but remain closed on weekends to serve as, in words of DDOT Director Gabe Klein, “a pedestrian plaza.”


Anonymous said...

I was concerned that the renovation would over-sanitize the Market, but from the photo it looks like it will retain its authenticity. Even like to see that big metal fan imbedded in the wall (despite the introduction of A/C). I will hold final judgement until I visit in person, but first impression looks good.

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