By Candyce Burke
Special to the Afro

A staple in Baltimore’s culture and history, the world-famous Lexington Market, the oldest market in America, is finally undergoing redevelopment in a project called “Transform Lexington.”

“Lexington Market is one of the most famous markets anywhere in the country, and to bring it back to its original shape is something that we all are looking forward to,” Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said at a recent groundbreaking ceremony. “I just want to make sure that we don’t forget the vendors who have been here through thick and thin as we bring on new vendors, but I think it’s going to be a plus for Baltimore City and small vendors as a whole.”

Groundbreaking ceremony for a redevelopment project at Lexington Market in Baltimore, Md. (Photo by Candyce Burke)

The $40 million project is being led by Seawall, a real estate developer based in Baltimore, best known for its work on Remington’s R. House, Union Mill and Baltimore Design School.

All the market vendors will remain open throughout construction in the East Market building while a new South Market will be built on what is currently a parking lot next door. The market’s arcade will be knocked down and reopened as a plaza that can be used for farmers’ markets and public gatherings.

Construction of the South Market building started in January and will continue through the summer of 2021, when the grand opening of the new addition to Lexington Market is scheduled to take place. 

Developers and city officials are also hoping for an increase in tourism and guests to the market when everything is done next year. “The market is part of the fabric of Baltimore, so if you talk to any Baltimorean, they have a story around Lexington Market,” Pickett Slater Harrington, community engagement lead for Seawall said. “Part of that story is also inviting in visitors as well, so we hope that folks who come to visit the city of Baltimore come to the market, and they embrace this place just like Baltimoreans have.”

A few curious Baltimoreans came to the groundbreaking to support the project and to learn more about what is in store for the market.

“We used to come down here when we were little with our parents,” said Linda Feiler. “We would get off the bus, come to the market, get something to eat and then catch the next bus to go home.” Feiler is hoping the new market will recapture some of that old Baltimore magic.