Eastern Market Gets Financial Boost

Posted September 16, 2008 at 5:26pm

Fans of Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market received good news on Tuesday with the announcement that the 135-year-old establishment was given a $2 million grant to help with its interior rehabilitation.

“What we’re here to celebrate today is that the city wrote a grant that was so compelling that it has been awarded,” D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said at a news conference. She said the money will cover 25 percent of the interior work and 10 percent of the overall building restoration costs that resulted from a fire that gutted the market in April 2007.

The grant comes from the Economic Development Administration, a branch of the Department of Commerce that falls under Norton’s jurisdiction in her role as chairwoman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

“Economic development is a process that works best when locally driven,” said Patty Sheetz, director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs at EDA. “The Department of Commerce will help grow the District’s economy by investing this $2 million.”

The grant will be used to update the historic building’s air conditioning, heating system and restrooms, while also restoring the original skylights and chimneys. The entire building restoration is expected to cost some $14 million and be completed in early summer 2009. The market has been covered in scaffolding for some time now as the city repairs the structure’s slate roof.

“We are excited,” D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said. “We are thankful, and we are going to make sure that all the great work that has been going on at Eastern Market continues.”

The Capitol Hill community and the D.C. city government were quick to rally around the market after the devastating fire. Fenty speedily commissioned a temporary market to be constructed across the street from the site. This structure allowed market vendors to stay in business while the restoration takes place.

“There are very few places in this country that have such a community gathering place,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) said. This money “will rebuild the spirit of the people and the spirit of the community.”