Founded in 1782, and described by many as the longest operating public market in the country, Lexington Market used to be the locus of community, culinary, and social life in Baltimore, Maryland. However, since the 1960s, the area surrounding the market began to deteriorate with the neighboring communities experiencing significant economic disinvestment.
On January 7, 2020, the state of Maryland announced a $3 million bridge loan through their Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program for the revitalization of the historic downtown Lexington Market.
The loan will support three months of construction work for the estimated $38.5 million redevelopment project. The Neighborhood BusinessWorks bridge loan will also enable the Lexington Market project to meet certain financing requirements to secure additional New Market Tax Credit resources.
“We are proud to support the revitalization of the historic Lexington Market, which will create hundreds of jobs and support the long-term wellbeing of the surrounding community,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “This transformative project draws upon the market’s rich legacy and points to a bright future for downtown Baltimore.”
The redevelopment plan will rehabilitate the existing East Market building, reopening Lexington Street for pedestrians, and constructing the South Market building as a modern interpretation of the original 1900s-era market sheds.
“Redevelopment projects of this scale require a great deal of planning and a lot of different sources of financing, and we are proud to be a partner in the revitalization of Lexington Market,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt.
“This redevelopment will breathe new life into this historic landmark, re-establishing it as a vital thread in the fabric of Baltimore while creating jobs and enriching the quality of life for city residents,” he added.
The first phase of the Lexington Market project will create 250 construction jobs. The new South Market will add approximately 40 new merchants, creating 200 jobs, including both full- and part-time positions that will be available to community residents.
The new Lexington Market will focus on a healthy mix of both staple foods like produce, meats, and dairy, as well as prepared foods. A wide range of pricing will be available, and SNAP and FSP benefits will be accepted as forms of payment to embrace the low-income community that has relied on Lexington Market for their shopping needs for generations.
The Neighborhood BusinessWorks program provides gap financing to new and expanding small businesses located in Priority Funding Areas and Opportunity Zones across the state. During Governor Hogan’s administration, Neighborhood BusinessWorks has provided more than $40 million to over 170 small businesses or projects that support small businesses.
Neighborhood BusinessWorks was also instrumental in aiding small business recovery following the civil unrest in Baltimore in 2015 flooding in historic Ellicott City in 2016 and 2018. Other recent program loans have assisted biotechnology companies, restaurants, and retail establishments.
Featured rendering of the renovated Lexington Market courtesy of Lexington Market.