Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Lexington Market. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Lexington Market revitalization project now has an architect

The $26.7 million renovation and revitalization of Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market took another step forward Monday with the announcement that an architectural firm has been chosen for the project.

Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects has been awarded the contract for architectural, engineering and specialty consulting services for the Transform Lexington Market Initiative.

The contract was awarded by Lexington Market Inc., a nonprofit corporation that runs the historic market on behalf of Baltimore. The project involves keeping the market operational while overhauling its structure to attract more customers and vendors.

Lexington Market Inc, a nonprofit corporation that runs the historic market on behalf of Baltimore, has awarded the contract for architectural, engineering and specialty consulting services for the Transform Lexington Market Initiative, which has hopes of bringing more heathy food options to its patrons, like the fresh fruit vendor seen here. Photo by Maximilian Franz.

Lexington Market Inc, a nonprofit corporation that runs the historic market on behalf of Baltimore, has awarded the contract for architectural, engineering and specialty consulting services for the Transform Lexington Market Initiative, which has hopes of bringing more heathy food options to its patrons, like the fresh fruit vendor seen here. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

The cost of the redevelopment of the market is to be paid through a combination of federal, state, city and private money.

“I am eager to take the next step towards our plans to renovate the historic Lexington Market,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “With the investments that my administration has already made at our public markets, including Broadway, Northeast Market and Avenue Market, and our recently announced public-private partnership proposal for Cross Street market, this announcement for Lexington Market will help ensure that our historic public markets will continue a play a significant role in Baltimore’s communities.”

The request for proposal for the contract was initially issued in May. The first phase of the project will involve design, construction documents and construction oversight.

In January, consultant Market Venture Inc. issued a report with its suggestions for improvements to the market.

Those recommendations included suggestions that the market consolidate its operations into a single building. The report recommended folding operations into the East Market and 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 scenario involved keeping the West Market and building a new facility on the Lexington Street side of the block. Under that scenario the East Market would be redeveloped with complementary uses.

That same report also suggested the market make a change in the makeup of vendors. It suggested a move away from prepared foods to providing more fresh offerings and reducing the number of vendors operating at the market. The goal laid out in the report calls for 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.

The historic market dates back to 1782 and is home to some of Baltimore’s most famous eateries, such as Faidley’s Seafood. But the area around the market on the West Side of downtown has suffered a slow decline as department stores that once dominated Howard Street closed or fled for the suburbs. Also the emergence of post-World War II supermarkets changed the shopping habits of many Americans, which hurt traditional vendors at the market.

Lexington Market. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Lexington Market. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

In recent years, the city has tried to revitalize the area, with mixed results.

The area has been re-christened the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District, and the city issued a request for proposal in June to re-develop a block with 20 city-owned properties called Howard East.  Washington Baltimore Development Group also recently unveiled plans for a 15-story mixed-use development in the 300 block of Howard Street, and Enterprise Homes broke ground on the $22.3 million Mulberry at Park Apartments.

Meanwhile, the area still is trying to shed its reputation as an open-air drug market, and the massive Superblock project once envisioned as the foundation of the community’s redevelopment remains locked in a prolonged legal battle.


About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.