BALTIMORE — Baltimore City is using $4.9 million of its funding from the American Rescue Plan Act towards completing the redevelopment of Lexington Market and helping vendors transition to their new home.
The market’s redevelopment got underway in early 2020 but the pandemic and price increases on construction and labor delayed the opening to fall 2022.
The City hopes the new financial assistance will help offset those costs.
“It’s really great news for me, especially with all the inflation, all the equipment, labor, even costs of the materials has increased tremendously,” said Jane Lim, co-owner of Ronny’s Combo.
“We had a construction… gap that we needed to fill because of COVID. The extra prices for equipment and material added to that so this will allow us to finish and open,” said Paul Ruppert, CEO of Baltimore Public Markets Corporation.
The goal of this funding is also to maintain diversity. Customers visiting the newly developed city-owned market will find a mix of new merchants in the 60,000-square-foot space. Black ownership is currently at 5 percent and will increase to nearly 50 percent, and women will own half of the businesses there.
Of the more than 45 businesses, half will be new and half will come from the existing market.
Lim and her breakfast food/cheesesteak stand, as well as Alex Kofman, owner of the shoe repair shop Kofman’s, will be making the move after struggling to keep their business afloat for the last three years.
“We tried our best to keep our staff,” said Lim. “They need to provide for their family so it was really tough; a lot of responsibility as the owner because you want to keep them on the pay roll.”
“I’ve personally been here since 1989 so I’ve seen many changes come and go. This is the one that everyone has been waiting for,” said Kofman.
As a Baltimore staple for over 200 years, the merchants are eager to be part of its its next chapter in the new space.
“We’re gonna take the best of what we were able to offer in the past, take away the negatives that were associated for some time, and add positive things to it,” said Kofman.
The market will open this fall. In the meantime, the east market is open Monday through Saturday.
The market project is also being funded with $2 million from Lexington Market, Inc., $7.3 million from the City of Baltimore, $9.4 million from the State of Maryland, $9.5 million in New Market Tax Credit investment, and an $11.3 million loan financed by Fulton Bank.