BALTIMORE - For nearly two and a half centuries, Lexington Market has been a gathering place for downtown Baltimore residents and visitors alike.
Revolutionary War hero Gen. John Eager Howard donated the land for the market, named for the Battle of Lexington, when he returned from the war.
Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have named Baltimore the gastronomic capital of the world after visiting the market.
Now, a makeover is in order – and market management wants your opinion.
The survey must be completed by March 16. It asks respondents questions including where they buy their groceries and if they have visited any farmers’ markets recently, plus more specific questions on what they would like to see at the market.
The revitalization of the historic market is tied to the larger redevelopment of the west side of downtown Baltimore.
“The intent is to try to broaden its appeal again,” said Ron Kreitner, executive director of the nonprofit WestSide Renaissance. “It’s a thriving place in many respects, but the thinking is it could do more.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has identified Lexington Market as a launching pad for the rebirth of downtown’s west side.
“The recently designated Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District, a significant growth in downtown residents and the continued expansion of the University of Maryland Baltimore make downtown’s west side a strong area for new investment,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
Lexington Market is the world’s largest continually running market for six generations, according to the business.
“Since substantial capital investments are needed for the facility, we are exploring new ways that Lexington Market can serve people from throughout the region, regardless of the size of their pocketbook, in the best tradition of downtown public markets,” Casper Genco, general manager of Lexington Market, said in a news release.
Lexington Market has hired Market Ventures Inc. of Portland, Maine to develop a master plan for the business’ future.
The plan will recommend physical changes, as well as changes to roster of merchants and goods.
In a news release, Market Ventures president Todd Spitzer said his firm is looking for opinions from people who are now customers at Lexington Market and people who haven’t been there recently.
Spitzer said Thursday his firm works exclusively with markets like Lexington. Public input is critical to the market's future success, he said.
"They're places where small, independent businesses can get started, and a true reflection of their community," Spitzer said.