Plans for the overhaul of Baltimore’s iconic Lexington Market now involve demolishing the current structure and building a new facility on a parking lot to the south.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Lexington Market Inc. unveiled the new plan on Friday. The city has been considering options for overhauling the market, which dates to 1782, for nearly two years since a consulting firm issued a report with a range of suggestions for updating the market.
“As we debated the merits of renovation versus new construction, it turned out that the earliest drivers of building a new market were our shoppers and merchants,” Robert Thomas, executive director of Lexington Market Inc., said in a statement. “A brand new market gives us a chance to construct an efficient market that could last for decades and continue our market’s proud historic tradition.”
The decision to build a completely new market also allows the current building to stay open while the new structure is built.
Renderings of the proposed new structure are of a glass building and show the site of the existing building transformed into a park. Lexington Street between Eutaw and Paca streets will be opened for pedestrians creating a park space that will host events, such as farmers markets.
Lexington Market Inc. wants a construction budget of between $35 and $40 million. Once construction starts it’s estimated that building will take 26 months to complete. Funding for the project is expected to come for a variety of sources, including government grants and loans as well as philanthropic donations, according to Lexington Market Inc.
Redeveloping the market is seen as key to sparking a renaissance on the city’s Westside. That area of the city was once the retail center of Baltimore but suffered as the large department stores followed their customers to the suburbs.
In recent years the city has put an emphasis on redevelopment in the area and has rechristened parts of the neighborhood as the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District in an attempt to lure new investment.
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