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First town-hall meeting on Lexington Market redevelopment to be held June 26

A rendering of Lexington Market. The first town-hall meeting to discuss the redevelopment of the market will take place June 26.
A rendering of Lexington Market. The first town-hall meeting to discuss the redevelopment of the market will take place June 26. (Rendering courtesy of Seawall Development)

Seawall Development will hold the first in a series of town-hall meetings next week to allow public comment on the redevelopment of Lexington Market.

The meeting will be held at Lexington Market on June 26, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Snacks, refreshments and childcare will be provided. People interested in attending should RSVP here; a spokeswoman for the firm said over 100 people have already signed up online.

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Construction on the new market is set to begin early next year. Seawall said they intend to hold quarterly meetings until the project is completed, around mid-2021. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

With a new Lexington Market and long-overdue redevelopment along Howard Street, downtown population could continue to grow

Pickett Slater-Harrington, who leads the community engagement team for Seawall, said the event will offer city residents a chance to give input on the market’s future. “Lexington Market is an opportunity to create the kind of Baltimore we want to see,” he said. “Are we creating a market that is diverse and inclusive of all Baltimore?”

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Issues up for discussion will be the new building’s design, safety concerns, vendor selection, programming and community use, as well as ways to honor the history of Lexington Market. “How do you maintain all of what’s great about Lexington Market … and add to it?” Slater-Harrington said.

Slater-Harrington hoped to discuss ways to maintain SNAP benefits for market vendors. “We know a foundational part of the mission of the market is to create food access,” he said.

Developers announced designs for a new Lexington Market, a Westside anchor that could break ground in early 2020 and open in the summer of 2021.

The Baltimore Sun reported this week that a group of Baltimore public market vendors have either lost or are in danger of losing eligibility to take payments through SNAP, the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program for low-income people. Seawall has said it is concerned about changes to SNAP eligibility.

“The vision for Lexington Market’s new facility is to continue to offer as much affordable, fresh food as possible, maximizing working with the SNAP program,” said Jon Constable, the project lead for Seawall. “This is a public market, and public markets are set up to provide affordable, fresh food for the public.”

Some longtime Lexington Market vendors who can no longer take food stamps say the program's changes are costing them business.

Seawall, the firm behind the R. House food hall and other projects in Remington, was chosen by the city last year for the Lexington Market overhaul. They will be paid about $1.9 million, according to a contract between the groups. The entire redevelopment is projected to cost $30 million to $40 million — about $20 million less than previous estimates.

The scaled-back project involves building a new, smaller shed for vendors on an adjacent parking lot while opening Lexington Street to pedestrians and retaining the market's east building. The market’s west building, across Paca Street, is slated for a separate redevelopment project.

While Seawall will oversee the project, Lexington Market, one of the oldest markets in the country still operating, will remain in city hands, managed by Lexington Market Inc., an affiliate of Baltimore Public Markets Corp.

Compiled with input from readers and the newsroom, The Baltimore Sun’s list of 100 essential food experiences encompasses places people talk about, think about and come back to again and again and again.

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