Spring 2017 | Market Center Newsletter

Quarterly News & Updates from Baltimore’s Market Center Merchants Association

In this update

  • Merchant Spotlight: Stephen Wise Baltimore
  • Updates from the President and Executive Director of MCMA
  • Notices: Annual Meeting featuring Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Newsletter Sponsorship
  • News & Updates
  • MCMA Committee Updates
  • Resources for Market Center Merchants
  • About Market Center
  • About the Market Center Merchants Association
  • Welcome New Businesses!
Photographer: Tyrone Wilkens, photosbysyranno.com, @ Photos by Syranno

Merchant Spotlight: Stephen Wise Baltimore

Custom-Designed Confidence

Baltimore designer Stephen Wise wants his clients to feel confident enough to talk to Beyonce or Penelope Cruz when they wear his custom-designed suits. At SWB (“Stephen Wise Baltimore”), Stephen and his masterful tailor, Alberto, design and sew custom suits for men, created to fit both the client’s physique and personality.

SWB received City Paper’s 2016 “Best Tailor” award and marked its 20th anniversary in 2017, yet Stephen has exciting changes in store. He will soon offer sewing classes and sell fabric and a select collection of off-the-rack items and accessories from SWB and local designers, to help other design entrepreneurs succeed.

The Local Oyster, Mt. Vernon Marketplace

Updates from the President and Executive Director of MCMA

From the MCMA President, Steve Samuelson

MCMA’s Annual Meeting takes place on May 16, and I encourage everyone invested in Market Center’s well-being to attend. In addition to hearing from featured guest Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, you will find the annual meeting a great opportunity to mingle, catch up with old friends and meet new people who, like you, aspire to or are already working to make Market Center a great place to live, work, own a business, and invest. MCMA will also update our guests on recent and upcoming activities, such as our cleaning program, customer service training, technical assistance, marketing, and events.

We hope to have a strong turnout, particularly from business owners. A healthy turnout will speak volumes about the depth and breadth of stakeholders’ commitment to Market Center, not just to the outside world, but to each other. I look forward to seeing you there!

From the MCMA Executive Director, Kristen Mitchell

Six months into my job, and I continue to find new aspects of Market Center to bolster my optimism and share with the world, whether I am hearing about a business owner’s latest achievement or new product line, witnessing new investment in a previously vacant building, welcoming a new business, getting invaluable insight from a volunteer on one of our committees, or noticing improvements to our elderly infrastructure.

As with everything in life, perfection is elusive, but progress is not. In Market Center, I see progress in the lights that residents turn on in the newly renovated 101 W. Lexington, the barber who just purchased his building on Park Avenue, satisfied crowds at Mount Vernon Marketplace, and the artists who are transforming buildings on Howard Street into studios and performance space. This list is not exhaustive, of course. Around almost every corner, you can see progress.

Collectively, we still have a lot of work to do, but we must also acknowledge and promote the positive to continue to build momentum.

The view of the Bromo Seltzer Tower from Baltimore and Paca Streets.


Annual Meeting

May 16, 2017, 5:30 p.m.
Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington, featuring Guest Speaker: Commissioner Kevin Davis, Baltimore Police Department. Please RSVP by May 10 to Kristen Mitchell at 443–478–3014 or executivedirector@marketcenterbaltimore.org.

Newsletter Sponsorship

For $200, you can sponsor our next newsletter and get your name or logo on the cover. MCMA distributes 400 hard copies, 175 electronic copies, and publishes the newsletter on-line. If you wish to sponsor a newsletter, contact Kristen Mitchell: executivedirector@marketcenterbaltimore.org or 443–478–3014.

News and Updates in the Market Center

Lexington Market Redevelopment

Lexington Market, Inc., in December released architectural renderings and a site plan for the new Lexington Market. Under the current proposal, the new market building will be built on the existing surface parking lot. After construction is complete and tenants move in, the existing building will be demolished. This plan is more cost effective than renovating the existing building, minimizes disruption to current tenants’ operations, and makes it possible to re-open Lexington Street between Paca and Eutaw.

The new building will be approximately 97,000 square feet.
Lexington Market Inc., is in the design and fundraising stage right now; construction is expected to take 18–24 months and is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2018.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion

In February 2017, the Baltimore Police Department and Behavioral Health System Baltimore, a nonprofit behavioral health services provider, launched the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) pilot program on the west side of downtown, including much of Market Center.

LEAD aims to divert people suspected of misdemeanor drug possession or prostitution to treatment and support services rather than the courts, recognizing that substance abuse is a health problem. A similar program in Seattle has demonstrated positive impacts, with participants more likely to find housing and employment, and less likely to repeat the offense, than people arrested for similar activities. More than 120 police officers have received LEAD training, and Downtown Partnership and Lexington Market staff have received similar training to allow them to make “social referrals” for people who may benefit from the program but are not suspected of illegal activity.

Proposed Howard Street and Five and Dime Historic Districts

Proposed Five and Dime Historic District
Proposed Howard Street CHAP District

The Baltimore City Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) is weighing the establishment of two local historic districts in Market Center. Currently in Market Center, a 2001 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) and the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) governs development on city-owned properties and properties which receive city financial support; MHT reviews proposals for consistency with federal standards. If CHAP approves the two historic districts, MHT and BDC will dissolve the MOU. CHAP will review projects for consistency with CHAP Design Guidelines, providing feedback early in the process and improving coordination with the rest of the city’s development review team.

The historic district designation process includes two CHAP public hearings. If CHAP recommends designation, the City Council member introduces legislation which goes through the legislative process, giving the public additional opportunities to weigh in.

For more information, visit this page.

Made in Baltimore

The Baltimore City Office of Sustainability recently launched the Made in Baltimore program to promote quality, local-crafted goods. This membership-based program offers memberships for “makers” — also known as small-scale manufacturers — and retailers. To qualify, makers must produce physical items and have a production facility in Baltimore; retailers must regularly stock three or more products from certified Made in Baltimore businesses.

Members get a listing on their on-line directory, MadeinBaltimore.org, use of the Made in Baltimore seal, and inclusion in marketing and promotions. This is a great opportunity for businesses to target their marketing to growing segment of the population interested in purchasing locally-made products.

For details, visit this page.

Reminder: Signs Need Permits

The City of Baltimore requires permits to “erect, place, hang or reconstruct” signs. Applicants must submit a permit application at the permits office (417 E. Fayette Street), though the application is on-line here. It costs $50 to file the application. The cost of the permit itself depends on the sign size; for example, signs between 10 and 150 square feet cost $35. For a full list of prices, visit page 9 on this link. City departments review the application for consistency with zoning, urban renewal, and historic preservation regulations. Signs in Market Center must conform to the Market Center Urban Renewal Plan design guidelines (see page 32 on this link).

The city also requires “Minor Privilege” permits for items, including signs, which encroach upon the public right-of-way (often the case for signs on buildings located adjacent to the sidewalk). The Minor Privilege application, and a summary of the Minor Privilege process, is available here.

Note: a permit to install signage should be filed prior to filing for a Use & Occupancy (U&O) permit to expedite the approval of the U&O.

311: Your Call to City Hall

311 is often the best way to request certain city services. For example, you can use 311 to report broken street lights; illegal dumping; missed trash or recycling pickup; and graffiti. This helps the city track needs and responses. The City also takes requests on-line here.

Mixed Bouquets, Military Paraphernalia, Gifts and More, 122 N. Greene Street

MCMA Committee Updates

Clean & Safe Committee

Chair: P.C. Price, Legal Services, Associates, Inc.

Co-Chair: Ann Winder, The Place Lounge

Meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 8:30 a.m.

  • MCMA expects to purchase and install, in collaboration with property owners and a contractor, exterior security cameras on three blocks this spring. This pilot program aims to demonstrate MCMA’s commitment to keeping Market Center safe and clean.
  • MCMA sweeps the streets once a week in collaboration with the Baltimore Courts’ Community Services Program, which places service workers with pre-approved worksites to complete court-ordered community service.
  • MCMA will soon participate in the Maryland Transit Administration’s “Adopt-a-Stop” program and help to maintain bus stops, starting with the stop at Lexington and Eutaw Streets.

Community Development Committee

Chair: Wendy Blair, Re/Max Commercial Logic

Meets the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m.

  • Small business owners can distinguish themselves from the competition with superior customer service. MCMA, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (DPOB) and Humanim are offering Customer Service Training for Market Center merchants. The course, run by Humanim, will take place on April 10. DPOB is underwriting the cost for the first fifteen merchants, and MCMA will provide breakfast and acknowledge participants in its next newsletter.
  • The committee is investigating the benefits of establishing a separate 501(C)3 arm of MCMA, to allow the organization to engage in more community development activities, such as adopting and maintaining a park or supporting development projects.

Marketing Committee

Chair: Scott Garfield, Lexington Market

Co-Chair: Dave Wren, Lexington Business Services

Meets the second Wednesday of every month at 8:30 a.m.

  • MCMA is hosting the first in a series of community-building events at the Everyman Theatre this spring. This social gathering is designed to help the business and residential communities become better acquainted. Business owners want the residents to patronize their establishments, and residents want easy access to the shops, restaurants, and services they desire, so it makes sense for us to mingle!
  • MCMA launched its website in March, complete with business directory, catalog of available properties, and development activity map.
  • The committee anticipates sponsoring activities centered on Small Business Saturday (after Thanksgiving) and the holidays. While it may seem like a long way off, it takes time to plan and execute quality events. If you want to participate, contact Kristen Mitchell at 443–478–3014 or executivedirector@marketcenterbaltimore.org.
The view of Lexington Market from the 600 block of Lexington Street.

Resources for Market Center Merchants


This website is a one-stop shop for small business information, including counseling, financial resources, and required permits.

Facade Improvement Grants

  • The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) offers matching grants up to $7,500 for upgrades to the front exterior of your building. For information, contact Sean Johnson at 410–837–9305 or visit this page.
  • The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (DPOB) offers matching grants up to $10,000 for upgrades to the front exterior of your building. For information, contact Luis Cardona at 410–605–0453 or lcardona@dpob.org, or visit this page.


  • BDC offers micro loans for small businesses for working capital, furniture, machinery, fixtures, and equipment. For information, call 410–837–9305 or visit this page.
  • The Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) offers $5,000-$50,000 loans. They may be used as a bridge loan for matching funds for government grants, including façade grants. Contact Omar Velasco at 443–708–7035 or ovelasco@ledcmetro.org.
  • The MD Department of Housing & Community Development offers flexible financing to small businesses and nonprofits through its Neighborhood Business Works program. For information, visit this page, or contact Michael Haloskey at 301–429–7523 or michael.haloskey@maryland.gov.

Small Business Counseling

  • The Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) supports small businesses and entrepreneurs through technical assistance, training, counseling, workshops, and a resource library. Call 443–451–7160 or visit this page for information.
  • The LEDC offers counseling on topics ranging from business plans to finances to permits and licenses. Contact Omar Velasco at 443–708–7035 or ovelasco@ledcmetro.org.
  • The Maryland Small Business Development Center offers free counseling and low-cost training to new and existing businesses. For training and workshops, contact Kim Andrews at 301–403–8300 x. 22 or kandrew4@umd.edu; for counseling and other questions, contact Ruth Chavez at 301–403–0501 or rchavez@umd.edu. For information, visit this page.
  • The Raymond V. Haysbert, Sr., Center for Entrepreneurship at the Greater Baltimore Urban League helps small business owners start right, get right, and grow right through workshops, seminars, and one-on-one consulting. For information, visit this page.


  • DPOB offers financial incentives to tech companies that lease commercial space within the Downtown Management Authority boundaries, which includes most of Market Center. For information, visit this page.

Development Activity in Market Center

For a current map of development activity in and adjacent to Market Center, visit this page.

About the Market Center Merchants Association

The Market Center Merchants Association (MCMA) represents businesses within Market Center. MCMA uses RBDL fees to support a variety of work, much of which is outlined in this newsletter. MCMA promotes commerce, retains and attracts business, and enhances the customer and residential experience.

About Market Center

Market Center Boundaries

Market Center is comprised of 27 blocks near Lexington Market, roughly bounded by Baltimore Street to the south, Greene to the west, Cathedral/Liberty to the east and Madison to the north. The exact boundaries are best shown on a map.

Established in 1983, Market Center is one of ten Retail Business District License (RBDL) areas in the City of Baltimore. Each RBDL was established by a separate City Council ordinance, and the businesses within the RBDL boundaries are required to pay an annual fee, which the city collects and then redistributes back to the business association for use in the district.

Welcome New Businesses!

• Cholitas Tacos, Mount Vernon Marketplace, 520 Park Avenue
• Fashion Scents, 234 Park Avenue
• New America Diner, 429 N. Eutaw Street
• Rotitto’s Schawarma, 101 W. Lexington Street