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Lexington Market Starts Anew – Again

Aaron Henkin/WYPR

State and city officials broke ground Tuesday on a project to revamp the historic Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore.

The country’s oldest continually operating public market has seen several revamps over the last few decades. This project, which drew on input and financial assistance from the community, private sector and state and city governments, will replace the market’s south parking lot with a modern warehouse-style building that will host 50 to 60 food vendors, old and new. 

It will also tear down the market’s arcade building and replace it with a pedestrian plaza on Lexington Street. The East Market will remain open throughout construction.

“This legendary market has evolved and reinvented itself several times over and over. And we're doing it again,” Robert Thomas, the market’s executive director, said during a news conference. “We expect to do that as many times as necessary, and in as many ways as necessary to make sure that we serve the communities which find this place appealing.”

The market is owned by the city of Baltimore. Mayor Jack Young said the project will bring around 270 jobs to the area and an economic impact of $351 million over the next ten years.

“It is essential that we support the economic redevelopment and revitalization of this iconic hub for delicious food and homegrown entrepreneurship,” the Democrat said. 

Financing for the $40 million project drew from state and city governments, bank loans, city grants and a $2 million contribution from the market itself. 

“The redevelopment of Lexington Market will do a lot for the revitalization and transformation of this city and is just one more way that we are changing Maryland for the better,” Hogan, a Republican, said.

The city chose Seawall Development to head the project. The company is behind Hampden’s Union Hall and Miller’s court, as well as Remington Row and food hall R-House, also located in Remington. 

Seawall founder Thibault Manekin said that the project’s architects listened to community input to develop a design that closely replicates the market’s 1910 shed building.

“This is an opportunity to prove that a single building brought together in an incredibly inclusive way can unite our city,” Manekin said.

Manekin added that the market will launch its vendor application process in early March.

“We won't look at it as a typical tenant-landlord relationship,” Manekin said. “We're launching the largest small business incubator that Baltimore has ever seen.”  

The new market is expected to open in late 2021. 

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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