The Eastern Market Corporation is looking to be more strategic in what projects it supports amid a new era of high-dollar investment that threatens the historic district's character. Crain's reports an ambitious set of criteria for new projects includes limiting chains and requiring that building buyers guarantee existing tenants tenants a soft landing.
The plans are ultimately unenforceable, and would at worst cause the non-profit development group to "withhold support" for a project, though its unclear whether that lack of support would be anything but symbolic. Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corportation, says:
"We do not have regulatory authority. All we can do is hope to create a great atmosphere for the core values to be appreciated both by developers and those who do have regulatory missions, whether it's the city, state or other public entities that grant permissions or incentives."
According to the business publication, the list of what Carmody is calling "protocols" includes:
- Limiting landlords total building square footage portfolio in Eastern Market "to less than a percentage of total district building square footage." That figure is not yet defined.
- Having a written relocation plan for residential and/or commercial tenants when purchasing an occupied building.
- Limiting chain or franchise business to no more than 15 percent of the total square feet.
- Having 10 percent of new commercial space made available at least 25 percent below market rate.
- Mixed-use projects of 35,000 square feet or more should have "a portion of suitable space" that "is reserved for food production, processing and/or distribution use."
The guidelines note that "it is unlikely that any one project will meet all the criteria." Therefore, it says, a scoring system will be established this summer.
The 29-point list comes following a series of business closures and tenant departures prompted by new building ownership. Most of those business and residents reside in buildings bought by young investor Sanford Nelson, who has bought more than 250,000 square feet of space in the area for millions. Carmody has said the majority of closures do not have to do with rent increases.