The team leading the development of Baltimore Peninsula in South Baltimore’s Port Covington neighborhood unveiled a conceptual design of The Exchange, a brick-and-mortar marketplace designed to bolster small and local merchants.
Scheduled to open late next year, The Exchange — which is using BCT Design Group, the designers behind the newly reopened Lexington Market in Downtown Baltimore — will consist of 13 spaces ranging from 90 square feet to 165 square feet as well as a food stall, seating area and space for a yoga studio and multipurpose room. It will be housed within Rye Street Market, Baltimore Peninsula’s marquee building with a central courtyard, corporate suites and boutique office space.
Residential and commercial tenants are trickling into Baltimore Peninsula, which officially opened its doors earlier this year. Since then, the development team has landed deals with businesses such as Clyde’s Restaurant Group; the parent company of Disaronno liqueur; and Pinky Cole, the CEO and founder of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based restaurant chain.
The development team said the marketplace is meant to provide an accelerator space for small businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color. Ideally, vendors will use the space as a launching pad before venturing into bigger spaces, said MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, the project’s lead developer.
“There is a deep well of creative talent and entrepreneurial spirit in Baltimore that deserves a platform for growth,” Gilmartin said in a Wednesday news release.
Baltimore Peninsula developers have a unique connection to the South Baltimore communities neighboring the project. A community benefits agreement signed in 2016 requires the development team to contribute and help raise at least $20 million for six nearby communities that can be spent as neighborhood leaders see fit. The communities also will receive a portion of all transfer fees and a portion of every lease signed.
The developers also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city that requires them to reserve a portion of all new housing units for people earning below the area median income; hire diverse contractors and suppliers; and ensure that Baltimore residents are trained and hired for the jobs created by the project.
Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, whose Sagamore Ventures development arm has been leading the redevelopment of Port Covington for the last decade, said The Exchange furthers the team’s commitment to those agreements. Tenants at The Exchange will receive shorter-term lease obligations, lower opening costs and technical assistance to stay in business, according to the news release.
“Creating a dedicated space for small businesses provides the ideal opportunity for the Baltimore Peninsula development team to further fulfill its MOU [memorandum of understanding] commitments, which are an integral piece of our overall vision,” the news release said.
Cole, a Baltimore native, will help curate the vendors at The Exchange, according to the news release. She celebrated her Baltimore homecoming last month at a news event that featured the Morgan State University marching band and remarks from Mayor Brandon Scott.
Slutty Vegan, her restaurant, as well as its companion Bar Vegan, are scheduled to open in Rye Street Market. Long rumored to be opening in Baltimore, the new location joins the company’s other eateries in Georgia, Texas, Alabama and New York.