Today on Midday, we turn our attention to development projects here in Baltimore. We begin with Lexington Market. It opened in 1782. It’s the oldest continually-running market in America. It has survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, and a six-alarm fire in 1949 that devastated its main buildings.
Its storied history notwithstanding, Lexington Market is badly in need of a makeover. That makeover is underway: a $40 million dollar re-imagining of the market that is slated to be finished by 2022. The first of two rounds of vendor applications to be part of the next chapter of the market has just been completed.
Some have voiced concerns about gentrification, fearing that African American and immigrant communities will be priced out of the new space. But officials with Seawall Development, who are overseeing the project, promise affordability and diversity.
Tom's first guest today is Thibault Manekin, co-founder and CEO of Seawall Development. He joins us on Zoom from Brazil to describe his company's collaborative approach to re-imagining Lexington Market.
Later in the program, we consider some development projects that haven't fared as well as Lexington Market. After the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, several West Baltimore communities were targeted for economic redevelopment and revitalization. One highly touted idea was Innovation Village, near Mondawmin Mall. Launched in 2016, Innovation Village was billed as a business and tech hub that would spur investment into West Baltimore, attract startup companies, and provide residents with much-needed amenities and jobs. Today, the Innovation Project is stalled. Another ambitious development project in West Baltimore is Madison Park North, on North Avenue near the entrance to I-83. The eight-acre site was cleared a few years ago to make way for a grocery store, apartments, and health care facilities, but construction has still not commenced.
Ethan McLeod, associate editor at the Baltimore Business Journal, has reported on the problems that have bedeviled these development projects, and he joins us on Zoom.