The way I understand it, here's what happened —
When the real estate arm of Holland America Lines bought Columbia Plaza, they kept the Farmers Market status quo and offered the space rent-free. Over the past few years, that's been a many-$thousands benefit to the market and the neighborhood.
HAL converted the parking lot to paid parking. I was surprised they got there, considering its location in a pedestrian zone, but it's grandfathered as an existing lot. In this case, it doesn't matter if the parking is directly associated with the Columbia Plaza building. And it's outside of the station area overlay, so it's not directly affected by this issue.
It seems like nobody's really using it for commuter parking. I see many more light rail riders who park on the street a couple blocks farther to the east. Apparently HAL thinks there's a better demand for monthly parking. Or maybe they simply recognize that demand is highest on market day…
HAL's development proposal has picked up again. A couple months ago Dana Behar told me they're moving forward. They've had, I dunno, almost twenty meetings with various committees of the Landmarks Preservation Board. I'm thinking Holland America Lines is largely self-financed, so I guess their decision to move forward is mostly about their sense of the market.