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Redevelopment of Broadway Public Market moves forward with community meeting next week

Broadway Market
Broadway Market (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Public Markets Corp. has brought on consultants tied to two of the city’s most popular new food markets to help redevelop the Broadway Public Market in Fells Point.

Development Solutions, whose principal was involved in the Mount Vernon Marketplace, and PI.KL, the designer of Remington’s R. House, will be helping Baltimore Public Markets revive the historic Fells Point landmark.

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The group will hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Brown Advisory’s Bond Street Wharf office to discuss their plan and hear what residents would like to see done.

“The vision is to reimagine the Broadway Market and transform it into a community asset and also a destination,” said Colin Tarbert, deputy chief for strategic alliances for Mayor Catherine Pugh, who serves on the board of the public markets nonprofit.

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Baltimore's long-standing public markets, badly in need of an overhaul, work to remain relevant in the city's changing and competitive foodscape.

The market’s redevelopment has been more than a decade in the making, and residents are eager to see something happen, said David Martz, president of the Fells Point Residents Association.

“I can’t wait for this meeting, myself,” Martz said. “We’ve been talking about this market for about 10 years.”

Some residents would like to see the facility turned into a traditional market, with fresh produce, fish and other grocery-style merchants, but they also would support a more modern take, with a mix of food and restaurant vendors, Martz said.

Either type of project would be an improvement, he said.

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“It’s very much of a dump right now, it’s embarrassing to the neighborhood,” Martz said.

The market opened in 1786 and was originally called the Fells Point Market. The north shed was damaged in a fire in 1969 and is currently vacant. The south shed was renovated in the 1970s.

In 2013, WorkShop Development had planned to renovate and reopen the shed as a grocery store but the project faced delays because of the proposed Red Line light rail project.

Earlier this year, the Baltimore Development Corp. asked for proposals to redevelop the market. Klein Enterprises, the Dolben Co. and Atlas Restaurant Group submitted the only bid.

The group had hoped to downsize the vacant north shed, which runs between Fleet and Aliceanna streets, to about 2,400 square feet of retail space. Plans called for the south shed to be used as a restaurant by Atlas, with a seafood market and butchery.

Tarbert said the Baltimore Public Markets board decided against moving forward with that proposal in part because it called for the group to buy the property from the city.

“We decided it wasn’t in the city’s interest to sell the property,” Tarbert said.

Klein, Dolben and Atlas could not be reached for comment.

Instead, Baltimore Public Markets plans to lease the property from the city.

The group hopes its development partners’ experience with food halls will help it create a space that the community likes.

Dominic Wiker, the principal of Development Solutions, oversaw the establishment of Mount Vernon Marketplace as development director for the Time Group, which owns the property. Development Solutions is Wiker’s personal development management firm.

In addition to R. House, Fells Point-based PI.KL has done design and architecture work for restaurants, residences and retail spaces across the city.

Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen said in an email that he is “excited to see this process move forward.”

Cohen said he thinks it is important that the market remain publicly owned. He said he also wants to see the public markets board work closely with current merchants, so they are not displaced, as well as with the community.

The Dec. 12 meeting is an important step toward ensuring that the project reflects residents’ vision for the site, Tarbert said.

After soaking in feedback from the community, the group hopes to have a design concept early next year and present a final design late spring.

The group also needs to determine how to finance the project, which will be a key determinant in how quickly it moves forward.

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