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Report urges consolidation of Lexington Market

Adam Bednar//Daily Record Business Writer //January 29, 2015

Report urges consolidation of Lexington Market

By Adam Bednar

//Daily Record Business Writer

//January 29, 2015

A proposal to revive the historic Lexington Market calls for the consolidation of market operations into one rebuilt hall and provides a few different scenarios for achieving that goal.

Kaliope Parthemos, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s chief of staff, said the mayor has been briefed that the second phase of a consultant’s report involves three options, and that the Lexington Market Board would be presented with the report’s findings during a meeting today. The redevelopment of the market is expected to cost $26.7 million.

“So we are going to re-evaluate the three options. We may come up with several others and then come back to the board and back to the mayor with a recommendation for moving forward,” Parthemos said. “But we are most definitely not leaning one way or the other.”

The option recommended by consultant Market Venture Inc. is to concentrate all market activity into a rebuilt East Market. That would involve keeping the market envelope but gutting the inside of the building and creating a flat floor that reaches from Paca Street to Eutaw Street.

Another option is consolidating in the West Market. That would require razing most of the West Block and building a new facility on the Lexington Street side of the block. After relocating the East Market and Arcade merchants, the East Market block can be redeveloped with uses that complement Lexington Market.

The report suggests the market change the current makeup of vendors from mostly prepared foods to providing more fresh goods like what can be found at farmers markets. The target mix included in the report involves 25 percent of vendors selling staple foods; 35 percent selling specialty foods; 25 percent selling fast-food items; and the remaining 15 percent to be non-food vendors. There would be a reduction in the number of vendors.

Overall, the project is expected to cost about $26.7 million, which the city would seek to pay through a variety of local, state and federal funds as well as possibly enticing some private funds for the project.

“They’ve come up with some fairly strong recommendations that are very consistent with the mayor’s vision for the Public Markets Corp,” said Kirby Fowler, who will serve as the chairman of the board for both the Baltimore Public Markets Corp. and Lexington Market Inc.

For years Baltimore has been grappling with how to revive the historic market — built in 1782 — and to make it a place where a diverse cross-section of residents will want to visit and shop. The area has fallen on hard times and is often perceived as uninviting and surrounded by drug activity.

In recent years the city has put a great deal of effort to rehab the downtown west of Charles Street and has issued a handful of request for proposals for properties in that area. The city also has launched the UniverCity Partnership with University of Maryland, Baltimore aimed at trying to make that portion of the city a more vibrant area.


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