City seeks proposals to redevelop Broadway and Hollins markets
The Broadway Market in Fells Point and Hollins Market on the city’s west side are on the block after city officials asked for proposals to redevelop the two city-owned markets.
The Baltimore Development Corp. and the Baltimore Public Markets issued the requests seeking developers to either buy or lease the properties on Friday, the same day a proposal was released to raze and replace the historic Lexington Market.
The city placed no restrictions on plans for Broadway Market, but Hollins Market must remain a public market filled mostly with food vendors. Besides making necessary upgrades and aesthetic improvements, the projects must create jobs, generate taxes and fit within the context of the neighborhoods.
“The city’s public markets are not only sources of food for our citizens, but economic drivers for neighborhoods,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in the announcement.
The latest market plans follow a deal the city struck with Caves Valley Partners to revive Cross Street market in Federal Hill with a $6.5 million renovation. The Towson-based developer will lease the market for up to 50 years under the terms of the agreement.
The recent and planned improvements are part of efforts to modernize the aging facilities that make up the oldest continuously operating public market system in the United States and spur neighborhood revitalization.
The outgoing mayor said Friday she hopes to find “strong private sector partners to create brighter futures for the use of Hollins Market as a public market and Broadway Market properties as a development project.”
Developer Scott Plank, the brother of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, has been acquiring properties around Hollins Market and met recently with neighborhood groups about remaking the market as well. On Friday, Scott Plank indicated an interest in pursuing a Hollins redevelopment.
“We are taking the time to review and consider the RFP,” he said in an email.
The market, which opened in 1846 at 26 S. Arlington Ave., stands just blocks from the West Baltimore Street commercial corridor and within a half-mile of the University of Maryland BioPark, the Lions Brothers Building redevelopment and the B&O Railroad Museum.
“Hollins has been a real anchor for what had been a vibrant retail street on Baltimore Street” and neighborhoods such as Hollins Roundhouse, Union Square, Poppleton and Franklin Square, said Michael Seipp, executive director of the Southwest Partnership umbrella group, a nonprofit that steers resources to those areas. “Over the last generation, that role has greatly diminished. … A rebuilding of Hollins Market is critical.”
Seipp said the community would like to see the second floor of the market’s historic brick building portion refurbished with a use that would serve residents and visitors, possibly a community hall, or “anything that’s going to bring new people into the neighborhood and provide a gathering point for the neighborhood.”
It’s also important to residents that current vendors remain, he said. Ten of 17 stalls are now occupied by vendors selling seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables, along with food stalls serving breakfast and lunch, a convenience store and several other uses.
“We do see Hollins Market as an opportunity to decrease the food desert that exists and to be a place where community residents come together,” he said.
While Plank’s firm has met with his group several times, Seipp said it hasn’t heard from any other developers about the market.
“There’s a good feeling on both sides that something very positive could come out of a public-private partnership if the terms make sense,” he said.
He estimated the market could need between $4 million and $5 million in upgrades.
Broadway Market includes two properties, the Broadway Market North Shed and a parking lot at 1640 Aliceanna St., and the Broadway Market South Shed and a parking lot at 1641 Aliceanna St. The vacant North Shed dates to 1786, making it the oldest of the city’s existing market buildings, originally built to serve Fells Point’s immigrant and merchant seaman population. The South Shed houses several delicatessens.
More than a dozen real estate and development projects valued at nearly $380 million have been completed or are under construction within three blocks of the market.
“The general feeling of the administration as well as the [public markets] board, was that if the public markets were no longer being the catalyst for neighborhood development then we should look into the possibility for private partners creating better uses for these city-owned buildings,” said Kirby Fowler, who chairs the board.
David Martz, president of the Fells Point Residents Association, said the community has expected the city to issue a request for development proposals.
Though community members disagree about the best use for the market site, many want to see a return to a traditional food market, where residents could go to buy for fresh produce, poultry, meat and seafood.
“We’re in need of a market,” he said. “There’s nothing walkable to get a tomato or a steak.”
A restaurant use has been floated as well, he said, an idea some oppose.
“We’ve got plenty of restaurants in the area,” he said. “What could someone do differently, and is there a need for that?”
Responses for both the Hollins and Broadway projects are due to the BDC by noon Feb. 13. Officials said they expect interest from private firms. They declined to say what developers had already made inquiries.
Baltimore Sun reporter Natalie Sherman contributed to this article.