Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Baltimore has plans to revitalize Lexington Market.
We’ve seen such proposals before, and they often come and go like a rodent through a vendor’s stall, which puts Lexington Market in the news for all the wrong reasons.
But we are cautiously optimistic about the $40 million redevelopment plan announced Wednesday for the west Baltimore landmark.
For one, Lexington Market Inc., the quasi-public entity that runs the market, has pledged to maintain the market’s financial viability by ensuring the new version is “the correct size, incorporates sustainability and energy-efficient features, and opens Lexington Street for pedestrians and for use as a farmers market,” The Daily Record’s Adam Bednar reported.
Rather than demolishing the east market structure and building a large market on the south parking lot, as had previously been proposed, new lead developer Seawall Development plans to keep and renovate the east market building and construct a smaller structure on the south parking lot. This will not only save tens of millions of dollars but help preserve the market’s look and feel.
Coincidentally, Cross Street Market’s developers also announced this week the first round of tenants for the Federal Hill landmark. Some vendors are returning, while others are newcomers bringing new restaurant concepts with them. The first of the two dozen stalls will open around Thanksgiving, while the entire market is on track to open next spring. Caves Valley Partners, the market’s developer, gutted the entire inside and rebuilt it to have a “retro feel” to take customers back to the 1950s-era renovation.
To say Baltimore has had a rough go of it recently would be an understatement. Violence in the city continues to dominate the headlines; referring to September, The Baltimore Sun mournfully declared “Deadly month crushes hope” on its front page Tuesday.
That an overserved patron of Federal Hill’s bars will soon be able to get pizza from a carryout window at Cross Street Market is insignificant compared to challenges the city faces. But the rejuvenation of communal spaces in two city neighborhoods is an encouraging sign – and hopefully an enticing one for both city residents and visitors.
“We really believe that re-imagined real estate can unite cities, and of all the projects we’ve ever had the opportunity to work on this is the one that’s going to prove that the most,” Seawall’s Thibault Manekin said of Lexington Market.
“It will be an inviting place for locals and visitors, as well as people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Caves Valley Partner’s Arsh Mirmiran said of Cross Street Market.
Both developers still have a ways to go, particularly Seawall as Lexington Market seeks to secure all of the necessary funding for the redevelopment plans. Yet just the fact they are bullish on Baltimore is a welcome development.