Northeast Market to get a makeover

Johns Hopkins partners with Baltimore City and other stakeholders to revitalize a landmark public market

Image caption: Andy Frank, special adviser to President Ronald J. Daniels on economic development initiatives, in the pre-renovation Northeast Market.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

An East Baltimore landmark and lunchtime hotspot will soon undergo a substantial physical transformation, thanks in part to financial and technical support from The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The Northeast Market, located on Monument Street, has enjoyed a robust lunchtime trade for decades, owing largely to its proximity to the Johns Hopkins medical campus.

The market features an eclectic assortment of delis, snack shops, baked-good stalls, and eateries serving both local and international cuisine. However, in recent years the market's produce, seafood, and other fresh food sales have shrunk dramatically.

The years also have not been kind to the building's exterior, which looks dated and uninviting. The structure's red and white tiles, installed in the 1950s, are chipped and fading in parts.

Recognizing the market's importance to the East Baltimore community, the university and the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition have partnered with Baltimore Public Markets Corp., Baltimore City, and other stakeholders to revitalize the market and broaden its appeal as a fresh, healthy food destination.

Andy Frank, special adviser to university President Ronald J. Daniels on economic development initiatives, says that the President's Office and Johns Hopkins are committed to a strong Monument Street retail corridor, with the Northeast Market as its centerpiece.

"The renovation of Northeast Market will draw foot traffic to Monument Street, benefiting the nearby businesses," Frank says.

To date, more than $1.7 million has been committed to the project, including a $300,000 seed fund from Johns Hopkins. Additional funds have come from Baltimore Public Markets Corp., Baltimore City, local foundations, and the state of Maryland. Major aspects of the project include improvements to the building's facade, main entrance, interior seating area, and lighting, in addition to enhanced food offerings.

"The building's exterior is fortresslike, which sends the wrong message about the market itself and Monument Street as a destination," Frank says. "The intention is to expand the market's offerings and make the facility more inviting, brighter, and customer-friendly."

The renovation work will begin this month, with the market remaining open during the renovations.

Baltimore-based Brown Craig Turner was selected to provide architectural design services for the renovation project. Specific changes include an enlarged and relocated main entrance, a new facade, windows to let in ample natural light, displays, signage, a dining area, and three additional vendor areas: a flower shop, produce stand, and coffee bar.

HEBCAC and the Maryland Institute College of Art have partnered to bring in MICA students to create graphic designs and murals to complement the building renovations and help enliven and enhance both the exterior and interior of the market.

In addition to improving the market's appearance, HEBCAC and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future are working with the Baltimore City Office of Sustainability to develop healthy meal menus, create new market vendor signage to highlight healthy meal options, launch new stalls for local farmers, and develop other programmatic initiatives to improve access to healthy foods and promote healthy eating habits.

The Northeast Market is one of five public markets owned by the city and operated by the Baltimore Public Markets Corp. The market was erected in 1885 and was last remodeled in the 1980s.

Renovation work is scheduled to be completed in summer 2013.