Winter 2018 | Market Center Newsletter

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

In this update:

  • Merchant Spotlight: The Place Lounge
  • Updates from the President & Executive Director
  • News & Updates
  • Development Activity
  • Welcome New Businesses!
  • Committee Updates
  • About Market Center
  • About Market Center Merchants Association

Grown-up and Chic

Merchant Spotlight: The Place Lounge, 315 W. Franklin Street

The Place Lounge is an alluring, boldly smart lounge for the over-35 crowd, with live entertainment ranging from card nights and comedy sessions to live bands and a house DJ. Twice monthly singalong nights feature old school slow jams and R&B favorites from the seventies and eighties.

Patrons enjoy the sophisticated yet unpretentious atmosphere, the signature drink — Ciroc, mango and pineapple juice, and grenadine — and ordering food in from nearby establishments.

Yet the guests themselves, as well as the bartenders and owners, are a big part of the appeal. The people exude confidence and sophistication, leading many to observe that The Place Lounge is the “best place in Baltimore for grownups.”

Many bars aspire to but never achieve this atmosphere, while The Place Lounge has been making it look effortless for more than 30 years. Here’s to 30 more!

Updates from the President & Executive Director

From MCMA President, Steve Samuelson

In successful mixed-use communities, businesses and residents enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. Residents support nearby shops and restaurants, and businesses provide residents with both necessary and desired goods and services, close to home.

Therefore, as a small business association, MCMA continually reaches out to residents, residents’ associations, and apartment building owners to forge partnerships that can improve quality of life in Market Center. Happy residents are an essential component of a strong business district.

At the same time, as merchants, if we want to capture more business from residents, we must know and respond to their needs and interests. We can get a sense of residents’ purchasing habits by reviewing “retail opportunity gap” data, which compares how much money residents spend to how much businesses earn on a category of goods or type of business. For example, within a one-mile radius of Saratoga and Howard Streets, residents spend $7.3 million annually on kitchenware and home furnishings, but businesses only make $3.3 million on these same goods. This $4 million gap between purchases and sales represents a potential opportunity. Of course, data is only a starting point, and a business owner must do his or her own research to create a merchandising plan.

In 2018, MCMA will survey residents and other potential Market Center customers to better understand their shopping and dining habits, and how to encourage them to spend more money at Market Center businesses. We will, of course, make this information available to business owners. In the meantime, if you have questions about demographic data, or “retail opportunity gap” data, contact Kristen Mitchell.

From MCMA Executive Director, Kristen Mitchell

A core group of dedicated volunteers serve on MCMA’s board, set MCMA’s priorities, chair committees, host social events and classes, maintain the books, sweep the streets, and much more. I am indebted to these individuals!

At the same time, however, we need additional volunteers to make an even bigger impact on Market Center. Think about how much we can accomplish with volunteers helping to beautify Market Center, host events, improve MCMA’s social media, website, and marketing materials, and identify new and innovative ways to make positive change in Market Center.

While our desire to boost volunteerism is a practical matter, doing so also provides intangible benefits. When people volunteer, they become active participants in helping to shape the future of Market Center. They demonstrate their care and concern for Market Center and inspire others to do the same. They help us build a stronger community, one action at a time.

Kofman’s Shoe Repair, Lexington Market

News & Updates

Education & Training Courses, Spring 2018 Schedule

How to Make Social Media Work for You

March 28, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington Street, Michele Alexander, Director of Marketing, Everyman Theatre, Register

Social media can be a great way to tell your story, reach new customers, and stay in touch with current customers, but with so many social media platforms available, how do you determine which to use? Learn the basics of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, how to target and grow your audience, and how to work within the dreaded “algorithms” which determine who sees your posts.

Access to Loans & Lines of Credit

April 25, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington Street, Eric Thompson, Assistant VP and Community Development Officer, BB&T Bank, R. Randy Croxton, Senior Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, Meridian Management, Register

This course will focus on practical steps you must take when preparing to apply for a loan or line of credit. Learn about the type of information you will need to provide, how banks and other lending institutions assess your request, the roles of credits scores and collateral, and how to increase your chances of success. This course will include a lot of time for questions and answers.

Basic Business Planning

May 23, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington Street, Jim Peterson, BLocal Small Business Outreach Coordinator, Small Business Resource Center, Register

Learn the basics of business planning, how to think strategically about starting and growing a business, how to assess market opportunities, and how to develop a business plan.

Small Business Accounting & Finance

June 27, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Catholic Relief Services, 228 W. Lexington Street, Steve Hsin, VP and Treasurer, PTC International, Register

Learn basic accounting concepts, including profit and loss, cash flow and more.

Credit Card Services

Date, time, location to be determined, Sam McNeill, M & T Bank, Sam McNeill, M & T Bank

If interested, email Kristen Mitchell:

Learn what to look for in credit card services, and how to use banking services, such as drop boxes and treasury management, to make your business more efficient.

Business District Improvement Pilot Program — 100 Block of N. Howard Street

In conjunction with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development is testing a new program on the 100 block of N. Howard Street. The Business District Improvement Program combines physical improvements with workforce development, a unique approach to tackling two needs — a more welcoming appearance for older commercial districts and enhanced access to jobs — simultaneously. Workforce development engines Civic Works and Living Classrooms will engage in storefront improvements and intense cleaning and greening this spring and summer. For information, contact Davon Barbour, 410–244–1030 or

Neighborhood Lights

Feel is a light installation made of LED strips, bicycle rims, optical lenses and crystals, which will be located in Lexington Market and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower during Light City 2018. In Lexington Market, the installation will be cased inside an architectural box featuring light projections as it relates to openness or emptiness in a plain environment. In the Bromo Tower, the installations will inhabit four studios and allow the viewer to fully immerse themselves with light.

Spring Spruce Up Days — Call For Volunteers

Interested in improving Market Center’s appearance and meeting like-minded folks? Join MCMA in sprucing up your business district and get to know your neighbors at the same time.
Registration is required to make sure we have enough equipment. Email Kristen Mitchell ( to register.

Eutaw Street Mulch Magic, March 16, 1–4 p.m.
Clean and mulch tree wells to magically improve Eutaw Street.
Eutaw Street Sweep, March 24, 9 a.m. — noon 
Get Eutaw ready for Orioles’ Opening Day with sweeping, scrubbing, and more.

Looking Good on Lexington, April 28, 9 a.m. — 1p.m. 
Show Lexington some love with sweeping, scrubbing, and more.

A Prettier Park Ave, May 19, 9 a.m. — noon 
Beautify Park Avenue with sweeping, scrubbing, weeding, and more. Bonus: Volunteers will be treated to a buffet lunch at 520 Park after the event!

Development Activity in Market Center

Blue = Recently Complete * Green = Under Way * Orange = Breaking Ground Soon

A — 602 N. Howard — retail, storage

B — 426 W. Franklin — Artists’ housing, retail

C — 501 W. Franklin — 96 apts.

D — 418–24 N. Howard — 30 apts.

E — 416 N. Howard — 5 apts., retail

F — Le Mondo Arts Incubator

G — 402 N. Howard — Gallery

H — Lexington Mkt. Reconstruction

I — 106–110 N. Eutaw — 11 apts., retail

J — University Lofts — Mixed-use

K — 410 W. Mulberry — Artists’ housing

L — 511 Park — 16 apts.

M — 505 Park — 10 apts.

N — 500 Park — 153 apts., retail

O — Franklin Street Apartments — 50 units, retail

P — Current Arts Complex

Q — 407–15 N. Howard — 39 apts., retail

R — 400–15 Park — Mixed-use

S — Pratt Library Renovations

T — Mulberry at Park Apts. — 70 apts.

U — La Quinta Hotel — 42 keys

V — L on Liberty — 72 apts.

W — 101 W. Lexington — 8 apts., retail

X — 2 Hopkins Plaza — 183 apts.

Y — Howard Station — Mixed-use

Z — 325 W. Baltimore — Mixed-use

Welcome New Businesses to the District!

· Medusa Restaurant & Lounge, 401 W. Baltimore Street

· Metro Lab, 602 N. Howard Street

· Pollo, 401 W. Baltimore Street

· Verizon, 106 N. Eutaw Street

Committee Updates

Clean & Safe Committee

Chair: P.C. Price, Legal Services, Associates, Inc.
Co-Chair: Ann Winder, The Place Lounge
Meets the second Monday of the month at 10:00 a.m.

The committee is organizing Spring Spruce Up days, to coordinate with special events such as Orioles’ opening day and the Mayor’s spring cleanup. For a full schedule, see News & Updates.

The committee advocates for greater, more consistent, and better coordinated public safety presence in Market Center by hosting bi-monthly Safe Task Force meetings with the entities responsible for keeping Market Center safe and following up on the action items identified in those meetings.

The committee advocates for improved sanitation in Market Center by hosting bi-monthly Clean Task Force meetings with the entities responsible for keeping Market Center clean and following up on the action items identified in those meetings. MCMA also regularly submits requests for street and alley cleaning, street light repairs, and graffiti removal, to 311.

Community Development Committee

Chair: Wendy Blair, Re/Max Commercial Logic
Meets the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m.

The committee scheduled six merchant education classes for the first half of 2018. For a full schedule, see News & Updates.

The committee spearheaded the establishment of the Market Center Community Development Corporation (MCCDC), which filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Maryland in November 2017. MCCDC is working with the Community Law Center to apply for 501(c)3 status.

In response to inquiries from business and property owners, the committee is investigating the possibility of eliminating or reducing the peak hour parking restrictions on the 100–300 blocks of Park Avenue and the 200–400 blocks of Franklin Street.

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.

The committee hosted the Market Center Jingle & Mingle at The Atrium Apartment Homes in December 2017. Many thanks to Southern Management Corporation for hosting, and to PNC Bank for sponsoring!

The committee is excited to co-host the next Market Center Mingle with the City Center Residents Association this spring. Stay tuned!

The committee spearheaded Market Center’s holiday decorations, which consisted of festive red bows placed on 75 pedestrian-scale lampposts throughout the district.

The committee finalized Market Center’s marketing materials targeting developers, investors, and business owners.

The committee is purchasing Market Center Merchants Association decals for merchants to display in their window, to build awareness of Market Center and the association. The decals will be available this spring.

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, Greene, Cathedral/Liberty, and Madison Streets. 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 Baltimore City. Each RBDL was established by a separate City Council ordinance, and the businesses within the RBDL boundaries must pay an annual fee, which the city collects and distributes back to the business association for use in the district.