Developers began tearing down part of Baltimore’s Lexington Market this week in one of the first visible steps of the effort to revitalize one of the country’s oldest public markets.
A portion of the market known as the East Market had been expected to remain open during redevelopment but has been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Seawall, the developer the city selected to revitalize the 238-year-old market, is building a new and more modern warehouse-style structure to house food stalls and other merchants.
This week, Southway Builders started demolishing the Arcade, a building added to the historic market in the 1980s. Plans call for the space to be transformed into a pedestrian plaza.
Construction on the project started in mid-February and is moving ahead with additional precautions to protect workers from the coronavirus. Southway is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and enforcing safety precautions on the site, including having workers answer questionnaires, have their temperatures taken, wear face masks and keep a six-foot distance from others, the developers said.
“The redevelopment construction schedule hasn’t changed at this point," said Jon Constable of Seawall.
The East Market building, which dates to 1952, will remain standing until its re-used or redeveloped sometime in the future.
The developer took on the project in October 2018. Seawall envisions a market with a diverse selection of prepared and fresh foods in a building that replicates the market’s look in 1910. The company has temporarily delayed the vendor application process because of the virus and shutdowns that have left many restaurants and small businesses struggling.
“We are planning to release more information on vendor opportunities as soon as the time is right,” said Peter DiPrinzio of Seawall.
Lexington, on downtown’s West Side, is one of six public markets managed by Baltimore Public Markets Corporation.