Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market will reopen on Monday with a soft launch, marking the unveiling of a new south market building, a $45 million redevelopment project that has been in the making for four years.

“I am so excited to see this brand new building with all the natural light streaming in,” said Paul Ruppert, president and CEO of Baltimore Public Markets Corporation. “I think our customers who come in through the door will be blown away by the building itself.”

Starting Monday, Lexington Market will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week, closing on Sundays. Initially, the space will feature four stalls and three kiosks as other vendors are waiting on construction and permitting, he said.

Later in the fall, Ruppert said, Lexington Market will host a grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Once the market is fully opened, its hours will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with plans to later add Sunday hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A total of 50 stalls will house a diverse mix of businesses, Ruppert said, with 50% of vendors being Black-owned businesses and 50% women-owned.

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An artist's rendering shows a crowd of people walking and sitting in an indoors marketplace with food stalls.
An artist's rendering envisions the interior of Lexington Market's newly redeveloped South Market. (Courtesy of Baltimore Public Markets Corporation)

The market will feature a variety of restaurants, fresh fish and meat merchants and businesses that offer other goods and services, such as shoe repair.

A few weeks ago, Matt Williams — co-owner of Mount Royal Soaps in Remington — visited the building, where his business plans to open a stall in November.

“I like to think of it as the Camden Yards of new marketplaces,” Williams said. “It’s gorgeous. Beautiful high ceilings. It’s a huge, open space. Whenever I look at it, I see amazing potential.”

Williams said opening its second location at Lexington Market is an “awesome opportunity” for Mount Royal Soaps, given the historic nature of the market and the opportunity to reach a wider customer base. The facility is located in downtown Baltimore, within easy access of hospitals, sports stadiums and government buildings.

Williams said he hopes the market will draw sizable crowds.

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“The city kind of needs a big win, so I’m hopeful,” he said.

A person on an orange construction lift works on the front of a building that says," Lexington Market."
Lexington Market's newly renovated South Market building will have a soft opening on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (Courtesy of Baltimore Public Markets Corporation)

Lexington Market is known as Baltimore’s oldest continually running public market, with roots dating back to the late 1700s. Currently, the footprint is made up of two older buildings on the east and west sides of Paca Street, known as the East and West markets, respectively. A new building, constructed on the south side of East Market, is now home to Lexington Market vendors.

Over the years, the market had experienced a decline in vendors and visitors due to concerns about accessibility, sanitation and safety in the area, officials have said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 100 stalls in Lexington Market. The more than 200-year-old institution shut down for a short period of time during the pandemic and has been operating at limited capacity since, Ruppert said.

The East Market facility closed in September after 70 years in business for vendors to transition to the new building, Ruppert said. Faidley Seafood will continue to operate in the East Market until the restaurant moves over early next year.

The plan, about a decade down the line, is to redevelop East Market as well, according to Ruppert. In the meantime, it will be used as office space for Baltimore Public Markets Corporation and the Parking Authority of Baltimore City, which will move from its current location in the Royal Farms Arena building, which is also being renovated. The space will also serve as storage and have other short-term uses, he said.

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Lexington Market plays an important role in a plan to reinvigorate downtown, as envisioned by city leaders. The facility will also feature an outdoor plaza and space for public gatherings.

“When Lexington Market is fully opened, it will become, once again, a landmark in the city,” Ruppert said. “We see this as a rebirth for Lexington Market, as part of this exciting time in Baltimore when things are changing and improving.”

According to Ruppert, Baltimore is the only city in the United States with a system of public markets. Other cities have gone down to one public market, typically targeted towards higher income visitors, he said.

“Our goal with Baltimore public markets is to maintain them for all of Baltimore, all income levels,” he said.

Ruppert said the Lexington Market redevelopment is funded with a combination of city, state and federal COVID-19 relief aid in addition to new market tax credits and a bank loan.

alissa.zhu@thebaltimorebanner.com

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