A second campaign to save The Flea Market at Eastern Market kicked off in late August from Michael Berman, President of Diverse Markets Management (DMM). The D.C. company that manages the market has achieved its objective to reverse the D.C. government ruling to terminate its contract and to takeover the market for itself. A similar campaign was previously launched in May 2012 to protect the popular outdoor Sunday market on Capitol Hill from redevelopment of the Hine School property where the market operated since 1992.
This time around the campaign focused on preventing a direct D.C. Government seizure of the community sensitive Flea Market. It began a couple weeks ago with a letter-writing effort to City officials and was intensified this week with an online petition to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. More than 500 people signed the petition, which stated "DC DO WHATS RIGHT!," in the first two days.
"Rather than destroy a longstanding vibrant marketplace with rich cultural and artistic diversity, we appreciate that city leadership recognizes the importance of our enterprise". According to Berman, "We believe the Mayor appreciates our legacy and will keep the independently-operated Flea Market at Eastern Market alive and well. The benefits for DMM, its employees, the exhibitors, their legions of customers and the Capital Hill community are immense."
Forest Hayes, Associate Director for Portfolio Management of DGS, who oversees Eastern Market and its sublease to the Flea Market, reported, after consulting with Berman, that they were working to resolve issues raised with the License Agreement and in the meantime a 6 month extension of the current contract was forth coming, promising delivery on September 14.
Berman said, "I think this is a good first step. I look forward to reviewing, with our counsel, the contract extension DGS has promised to us by September 14." Berman added, "It doesn't however excuse DGS' mishandling of the situation or how we were treated. It is unfortunate to what extent we had to publicize the issue in order to get the attention of the City, including the Mayor. However, we are very appreciative and grateful for the outpouring of support we received from the community, the region, and even from across the country!"
The Flea Market has been held Sundays in the Capitol Hill neighborhood outside the historic Eastern Market since 1984. The Flea was developed in 2005 by Tom Rall, a founding member of DMM, a small D.C. based LLC which has managed it since 2011. After relocating from the adjacent Hine School, where it was displaced due to development, the popular and long-running market has continued, albeit a third of its size.
DMM retained the services of Attorney Donald M. Temple, Esq., who, in 2000, successfully saved the outdoor non-food markets at Eastern Market from a prior city take over and negotiated a favorable contract on behalf on Market 5 Gallery, which first initiated outdoor arts and crafts vending, Saturdays during the 1970s. Temple has strong community and political ties in the city and is well versed in political and legal strategies in the District of Columbia, having also served as a former Capitol Hill Staffer, a Mayoral Appointee and a former candidate for the District's Delegate seat in the United States Congress. Temple has successfully litigated numerous cases to either judgment or settlement in the District of Columbia region.