Raised rental fees may force Fenton Street Market to close
The Fenton Street Market, an open-air market located in the heart of downtown Silver Spring, may be forced to either shut down or relocate due to a price hike for using Veterans Plaza every Saturday. For the 2012 season, Montgomery County is increasing the rental fee from $48 a week to $125 an hour.
Currently, the market pays a reduced price of $48 a week to use the space, a large discount from the normal rent price of $125 an hour. The county offered this reduced price when the market opened with the hope that the market would attract customers to businesses in the surrounding area. But for the 2012 season, the county will no longer offer the reduced price.
Silver Spring resident Hannah McCann opened the market in 2009 with the goal of creating a market where small local businesses could sell their products and bring the community together. "I wanted to provide an outlet for more independent and creative vendors," McCann said. 50 to 60 different vendors sell their products at the market each week; items range from refurbished bicycles to antiques.
The market has been beneficial in supporting local businesses financially due to the influx of shoppers who visit the market. In a 2010 economic impact study posted on the Fenton Street Market website, the Latino Economic Development Corporation found that the market brought $338,600.78 annually to surrounding businesses and had the potential to bring in $20,316.05 of state tax revenue.
If the county does not agree to lower the price, the market may have to shut down or move to a new location. Although several other areas have shown interest in hosting the market, McCann is hesitant to accept the offers. "It's very much a home-grown business, and I would have to think long and hard about relocating somewhere else," she said.
Over one thousand people have signed petitions to save the Fenton Street Market, in hopes that their voices will be heard. McCann plans to send the petitions to County Executive Ike Leggett. Supporters have posted comments on the online petition saying that the market is "a treasure of DTSS." In the past, the Fenton Street Market has also coordinated events with Blair's literary arts magazine, Silver Quill, as well as with the Communication Arts Program (CAP).
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