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Lexington Market Inc. awards construction management contract

Lexington Market Inc. has awarded the construction management contract for the multi-phase rehabilitation of Lexington Market to Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., in association with Mahogany Inc.

The contract’s scope includes cost estimating, pre-qualification of subcontractors and scheduling. Contract terms for construction management are still under negotiation. Lexington Market Executive Director Robert Thomas said awarding the contract is an early but important step in bringing redevelopment of the historic market to fruition.

“We wouldn’t have the opportunity [to get] as firm a grip on the actual costs and constructability of the project. So we wanted to involve construction managers earlier rather than later,” Thomas said.

In August, Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects were awarded the contract for architectural, engineering and specialty consulting services for the Transform Lexington Market Initiative. That firm continues to draw up schematics for the proposed multi-phase and multi-year redevelopment. Thomas said by bringing on construction managers at this point in the process it will help solidify some of the design choices that have to be made.

“That’s really the direction we’re trying to head there so that we wouldn’t have wonderful swooping lines and graceful curves… and no idea what that’s really going to cost us versus another perfectly acceptable design,” Thomas said.

The project is expected to cost about $26.7 million. Thomas said that number could change as officials move further into the design of the project, and that he’s hopeful the current estimate is on the high side. The schematics for the redevelopment of the project are on pace to be presented to the Urban Design and Architectural Review Board — essentially the city’s design cops — by the first quarter of next year.

In January, a consulting firm issued a series of suggestions to rehabilitate the landmark market that dates back to 1782. Those recommendations ran the gamut from a complete physical overhaul of the market to simply making interior vendor stalls lower and closer to customers.

Lexington Market and the West Side served as the place to go shopping in Baltimore for much of the 20th Century. However, the market has fallen on hard times as the department stores that were once its neighbors closed shop as many of the city’s wealthier residents fled to the suburbs in the decades following World War II.

In recent years the city and the University of Maryland, Baltimore have sought ways to revitalize downtown’s West Side. Those efforts have involved issuing request for proposals seeking private developers to invest into new uses for many of the empty buildings. The city has rebranded much of the area as the Bromo Arts & Entertainment District.

About Adam Bednar

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