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Eastern Market Renovation: A Peek Behind the Yellow Tape
Comments () | Published June 18, 2009
When Eastern Market reopens on June 26, the public will get its first look at the building’s basement, which will house a pottery studio. Shoppers can enter through a door on C Street, Southeast. Market vendors will also be able to use the basement for storage.

Clay says the biggest surprise was the state of the market’s concrete floors. After the fire, workers took a never-before-seen peek at the sub-flooring, the space between the concrete on top and the brick archways in the basement that provide structural support. They were shocked to find “holes big enough to fit your fist through,” Clay says.

“We found it had deteriorated to a place where it was probably verging on dangerous,” Jasper says. Plans were drawn up to preserve the 19th-century archways while reinforcing the structure with steel beams. Clay says it was a painstaking process. “These floors should be intact a hundred years from now,” he says.

The new-and-improved market also includes modern touches. In the north hall, there are a moveable stage and partitions, theatrical lighting, and a catering kitchen. Jasper says the space will be used primarily for cultural events, but it’ll also be available for community meetings and private functions, such as weddings. “We’re looking for people to really take advantage of this facility and for the community to own it,” she says.

In the south hall, vendors collaborated with builders to design state-of-the-art stalls. Walk-in coolers, new display cases and countertops, and task-lighting are just some of the additions. Market Lunch, a favorite Saturday morning breakfast, will have a full kitchen that’s out of public view.

Which is the best improvement? It’s a toss up, says Jasper: either the central-air system or the men’s and women’s bathrooms. Both halls are now equipped with ducts for cooling and heating, and in the old storage closets and office spaces between the two halls, builders have added restrooms.

Of course, installing new sprinkler and alarm systems wasn’t a bad move, either. “That was something the fire chief insisted on,” she says. “We were delighted to comply.”

Video by Jessica Sidman

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 06/18/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles