Quarterly News & Updates from Baltimore’s Market Center Merchants Association
In this update
• Merchant Spotlight: Po Tung Trading
• Updates from the President and Executive Director of MCMA
• News & Updates
• MCMA Committee Updates
• Resources for Market Center Merchants
• Development Activity
• About the Market Center Merchants Association
• About Market Center
• Welcome New Businesses!
Merchant Spotlight: Po Tung Trading
Asian Flavor in Abundance
Located in Market Center — and more specifically, Chinatown — since 1990, Po Tung Trading stocks a dizzying array of Asian foodstuffs, from Japanese machi ice cream to frozen Chinese dumplings and steamed buns, perfect for satisfying cravings even on busy nights. For the cooks, Po Tung carries fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, a fantastic variety of rice, noodles, spices, sauces, and stocks, and unique items like dried anchovies.
Have a sweet tooth? Owners Jerry and Winne Tsang also keep the shelves well-stocked with Asian candy and snacks. To aid in one-stop shopping, Po Tung also carries some American and African food, and basic household items like detergent and paper goods.
Don’t let the small space fool you: Po Tung is a strong anchor, neighborhood treasure and regional draw.
Updates from the President & Executive Director of MCMA
From the MCMA President, Steve Samuelson
Maintenance is not glamorous, but it is imperative to the health of any business district. To attract and retain customers, a business district must, among other things, be clean — this means no litter, no overflowing trash cans or dumpsters, no sidewalk stains, and no dirty windows, doors, or awnings.
MCMA helps clean the streets about once a week, complementing the Downtown Partnerships’ Clean Sweep Ambassadors, the City Department of Public Works, Lexington Market’s operations team, and the ARC of Baltimore, which has a contract with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to clean transit stops. Despite these efforts, trash, illegal dumping, and stains continue to plague Market Center’s streets, alleys, and parking lots. This gives everyone — residents, customers, visitors, and potential new business owners and investors — a bad impression and hurts business revenues.
As business owners, we must do our part to keep Market Center clean. By law, business owners are responsible for maintaining sidewalks, including curbs and gutters, and alleys adjacent to the business. In addition, we must also keep trash secure, whether we leave it out for the city to collect or pay for private collection, because when we fail to secure our trash, we invite people and critters to rummage through it, which inevitably leaves a mess. If the city collects your trash, please note that it cannot be left out prior to 6 pm the evening before collection day, and it must be in sturdy trash cans with secure lids. Trash cans must be returned to the premises no later than 6 am on the day after collection.
Regardless of the law, it just makes good business sense to maintain a clean environment. It may seem overwhelming, but if we all work together, we can improve the appearance of Market Center.
From the MCMA Executive Director, Kristen Mitchell
Attractive, welcoming spaces help create a thriving business district.
Years ago, I heard Joe Riley, then the mayor of Charleston, SC, speak at a community revitalization conference, and I still recall his message: Everyone should be able to see beauty every day.
We must seek to create or restore beauty throughout our communities, so
people who cannot travel still get therapeutic benefits of beautiful public spaces. Beautiful places are good for the soul.
Mayor Riley’s message is humanitarian, but also economic, with real implications for business districts. Attractive places appeal to people of all income levels and encourage them to linger — and when people linger, they spend money. By protecting and enhancing the beauty of its public spaces — from squares and parks to parking garages and sidewalks — and insisting that private development reinforce the city’s appeal, Charleston ensured a thriving business community.
Market Center possesses characteristics of great beauty, particularly in its architecture, but litter, weeds, graffiti, broken and boarded windows, vacant buildings, and damaged sidewalks and streets often obscure the beauty.
MCMA encourages business district maintenance by helping sweep the streets, talking to business owners about proper trash and recycling disposal, and submitting 311 requests for alley and street cleaning. This is a big task and we need to get beyond basic maintenance to proactive beautification.
You can help by keeping your storefronts and adjacent sidewalks and alleys clean and attractive, joining us for volunteer beautification days, planting flowers, and refreshing your building’s façade with the help of grants from the Downtown Partnership and/or Baltimore Development Corporation.
We will announce the first in a series of volunteer beautification days later this year. Stay tuned!
News & Updates in the Market Center
“Customer service makes a big difference in sales, customer retention, and on-line reviews. All types of businesses can benefit from the Customer Service Training program, and everyone can learn something, even business owners.”
- Deandre Williams, Owner, Shear Legacy Barber Lounge
Inaugural Customer Service Training Success
In April, nine individuals from five businesses and Lexington Market participated in the first Market Center Customer Service Training Class, sponsored by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and taught by Wini Alexander of Humanim (whose resume includes Customer Service Training for the Four Seasons).
Business participants included Expressions Bookstore and Custom Framing (222 N. Paca), Legal Services Associates (407 W. Franklin), Shear Legacy Barber Lounge (105 W. Saratoga), Shoe City (329 W. Lexington), and Stephen Wise Baltimore (216 N. Paca).
The second Customer Service Training will take place this summer at Lexington Market and is open to all merchants. Contact Kristen Mitchell at 443–478–3014 if you are interested.
State’s Attorney’s Office Seeks Security Camera Information
The Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City is creating a list of all public and private security cameras in Baltimore, and they ask that anyone who owns a camera consider registering it with the office. This information will be kept confidential and only be shared with law enforcement agencies. This information will help save valuable time and resources. To register cameras, visit https://goo.gl/J9NQDy.
Parking Authority Implements Demand-Based Parking Meter Rates
The Parking Authority of Baltimore City (PABC) in June received city approval to proceed with a new way of determining the hourly cost of on-street parking in downtown Baltimore, including much of Market Center. In the past, hourly rates were not based on usage data, or with the goal of managing parking demand to achieve a particular outcome.
This new approach, called demand-based parking meter rate setting, aims to have 1–2 parking spaces regularly available on each block face throughout the day while meters are in effect. PABC can raise or lower rates by 25 cents/hour every six months — for blocks with a lot of extra parking spaces throughout the day, rates will decrease, and for blocks with few parking spaces available throughout the day, rates will increase. The goal is to create parking availability, so that business patrons and short-term visitors can readily find a parking spot close to their destination.
For more information, visit baltimoreparkingmeters.com.
New Lighting Illuminates Howard Street
In May, BGE installed 19 new twin floodlight arms on Howard Street between Baltimore and Read Streets. The floodlights bathe the lower portions of the buildings in light and brighten up the sidewalk. BGE also replaced orange fluorescent lights with soft-white LED lights in the same area, as well as the 200 and 300 blocks of W. Centre Street and the 200 blocks of W. Franklin, W. Monument, and W. Lexington Streets.
The Baltimore Development Corporation and Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) managed the process, and the city paid for this project on eleven block faces.
In conjunction with this project, DOT also repaired street lights in the 200–800 blocks of Howard St.
Reminder: If you see a street light out, report it to 311 and get the Service Request number to track it.
Welcome La Quinta and 500 Park Apartments
This spring, Market Center welcomed two highly anticipated development projects.
In May, Front Street Development opened the doors of La Quinta Inn & Suites at 200 W. Saratoga. The adaptive reuse of this former bank and office building houses 42 beautiful hotel rooms, a gym and other amenities for guests, and a meeting space.
The Time Group celebrated the opening of 500 Park with a ribbon cutting on June 21. The 153-unit apartment building was more than 40% leased upon its opening, and 68% of the residents are moving to Maryland from out of state.
Baltimore Heritage Recognizes 106–110 N. Eutaw Rehab & Reuse
Baltimore Heritage recently gave a 2017 Preservation Award to the team responsible for the rehabilitation of 106–110 N. Eutaw Street, a trio of long-vacant historic buildings. The team removed non-original materials from the facades, rebuilt storefronts consistent with the original design, and saved 110 N. Eutaw from structural failure.
Thanks to the owner, 106–110 N. Eutaw, LLC, Charles Belfoure Architect, Jones Enterprise, McNeives Plastering, and Zeskind’s Hardware & Millwork, the buildings have new life, with ground floor retail and upper story apartments.
Today, Liberty Pharmacy and King of Lexington Jewelry occupy 108 and 110 N. Eutaw, respectively, demonstrating how well old buildings and small businesses work together.
The City of Baltimore sent the 2017 Retail Business District License (RBDL) bills to businesses in December 2016. If you have not paid your bill yet, please do. MCMA depends on RBDL fees for its work, which includes but is not limited to technical assistance and advocacy; marketing and promotions; and “clean and safe” enhancements.
Baltimore Bike Share Update
In addition to stations within Market Center at Lexington Market and Mount Vernon Marketplace, Baltimore Bike Share has stations nearby at University of Maryland (601 W. Baltimore), Center Plaza, Hopkins Place, and Pratt & Howard Streets. This helps businesses better serve the increasing number of people who travel by bike.
Small Business Saturday
If you plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) at your business with specials or events, please let MCMA know so we can help promote your plans!
MCMA Committee Updates
Clean & Safe Committee
Chair: P.C. Price, Legal Services, Associates, Inc.
Co-Chair: Ann Winder, The Place Lounge
Generally meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 8:30 a.m. — contact Kristen Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm.
- At MCMA’s annual meeting, the committee honored five officers for their efforts to keep Market Center safe: Officers Austin and Presbury (Baltimore Police Department); Officers Brown and Mealy (University of Maryland); and Officer Johnson (Maryland Transit Administration).
- The committee is planning community spruce up days on Saturday mornings beginning later this summer, and hopes to attract business and resident volunteers.
- At MCMA’s request, the Maryland Transit Administration replaced the Maryland and U.S. flags at the Lexington Market Metro station. They look great!
- The committee is putting finishing touches on MCMA’s exterior security camera pilot program. Though taking longer than anticipated to launch, the committee remains dedicated to the project.
Community Development Committee
Chair: Wendy Blair, Re/Max Commercial Logic
Meets the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m.
- The committee is exploring the possibility of establishing a nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC) to help spark investment in Market Center. As a 501(c)3, the CDC would be able to apply for more grants and raise funds through charitable, tax-deductible donations to use for small real estate investments and physical improvements.
- Thanks to the success of the first Customer Service Training session, the committee is planning additional training programs with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Humanim, and other partners, including a second Customer Service Training session, visual merchandising, and marketing.
Chair: Scott Garfield, Lexington Market
Co-Chair: Dave Wren, Lexington Business Services
Meets the second Wednesday of every month at 8:30 a.m.
- In April, MCMA held its first Market Center Mingle, designed to build a sense of community and attachment to Market Center. Hosted by Everyman Theatre, the event attracted a mix of business owners, residential building representatives, and residents. The committee hopes to attract more businesses to future events.
- MCMA hosted a table at the May 18 Lexington Market Crab Derby and invited all businesses to provide us with business cards, brochures, and other materials to distribute to the crowd. Visitors to MCMA’s table were treated to beautiful packets of seafood and Tagarashi spices from Juniper Culinary Apothecary, handy water bottles from Everyman Theatre, and the opportunity to win M. Butterfly tickets from Everyman.
- Thanks to a Baltimore Heritage grant, MCMA hosted middle school students for a Maryland History Day tour and lunch at Lexington Market. The students learned about Market Center’s Civil Rights and industrial heritage, and explored the connection between historic buildings, commercial revitalization, and the health of small businesses.
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 http://baltimoredevelopment.com/incentives/facade-grant/.
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 email@example.com, or visit http://godowntownbaltimore.com/work/construction/index.aspx.
BDC offers micro loans for small businesses for working capital, furniture, machinery, fixtures, and equipment. For information, call 410–837–9305 or visit info@BaltimoreDevelopment.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MD Department of Housing & Community Development offers flexible financing to small businesses and nonprofits through its Neighborhood Business Works program. For information: dhcd.maryland.gov/business/pages/nbw.aspx, or contact Michael Haloskey at 301–429–7523 or email@example.com.
Small Business Counseling
The following organizations provide free or low-cost small business counseling and training:
Greater Baltimore Urban League Center for Entrepreneurship gbul.org
William Honablew, 410–523–8150
Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)
Omar Velasco, 443–708–7035, firstname.lastname@example.org
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Tonia McCoy, 410–962–6195, email@example.com
Small Business Resource Center (SBRC)
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, contact Claudia Freeland-Jolin at 410–244–1030 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit godowntownbaltimore.com/work/ techconnect/index.aspx
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 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!
- Miss Carter’s Kitchen, 218 N. Liberty Street
- Ono Poke, 413 W. Baltimore Street
- Zeni Cafe, 316 Park Avenue
- Cucina al Volo, Mount Vernon Marketplace, 520 Park Avenue
- La Quinta Inn & Suites, 200 W. Saratoga Street
- Liberty Pharmacy, 108 N. Eutaw Street
- Lucky Star Tobacco & Grocery, 400 W. Saratoga Street
- Saison Wafel, Mount Vernon Marketplace, 520 Park Avenue
- Tangled Hair Salon, 319 W. Mulberry Street
- The Red Boat (coming soon), 3 N. Eutaw Street