Officials have pushed back the timetable for redevelopment of the East Market in the Lexington Market complex downtown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lexington Market Inc., the nonprofit that manages the historic market, issued a request for proposals in early March seeking a developer to renovate the East Market building. Proposals were initially due by July 1, but that timeline has been extended. Developers now have until Aug. 3 to submit a proposal. A pre-proposal conference will take place May 29 at 11 a.m. and requests for information from interested parties will be accepted until June 29.
The 20-page RFP solicits developers to enter into a long-term lease arrangement to remake the 1.5-acre site into something that will “increase residential or employment density in the neighborhood,” activate the street level and invest in new infrastructure and aesthetic improvements.
The city has no plans to offer public financial assistance, but the RFP says “a variety of tax credits are generally available.” The market sits within the Market Center National Historic District.
The East Market building, built in 1952, is the only one on the Lexington Market campus that currently houses any vendors. Lexington Market Inc. relocated dozens of stalls and merchants from the Arcade structure to the East Market, sandwiched between N. Paca and N. Eutaw streets on downtown’s west side, in 2019 in preparation for Seawall Development’s $40 million redevelopment plan. Vendors were also relocated from the West Market building, whose fate remains in limbo.
Lexington Market renderings (May 2019)
Seawall Development Co. presented updated plans for a redeveloped Lexington Market on May 16 before the city’s urban design advisory panel.
Seawall is leading the demolition of the Arcade building, which will become an outdoor plaza, and is adding a two-story glass building to house the new market on a surface parking lot to the south of the East Market. The new building is set to open in mid-2021 and will have space for about five dozen vendors, the developer has said. Seawall and construction contractor Southway Builders broke ground on the project Feb. 18.
Seawall last month also put vendor applications for the redeveloped market on hold due to the pandemic. That application period was supposed to open in March and run through June 5.
Jon Constable, development manager at Seawall, said Thursday through a spokesperson that the vendor application process was still delayed. The Lexington Market redo is moving forward but it’s too early to say how the pandemic will affect its timeline, he added.