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Q&A: Fed Hill's Jane Seebold Talks About Plans for Cross Street Market

It’s the start of the process. A glimmer of change. Residents of Federal Hill are taking a serious look at South Baltimore’s Cross Street Market with an eye to improving it.
The market is a Baltimore City-owned public market that has become both a landmark and a popular community-gathering place. Located at 1065 South Charles St. in the middle of the business district, it began in 1845 as an open-air market. In 1952, it was rebuilt in its current form -- a block-long rectangular concrete-and-brick building with vendors on either side of a center aisle.
Because of this history, residents like having it in the neighborhood, says Jane Seebold, executive director of Federal Hill Main Street. But they’d also to see changes.
“The people in the neighborhood would like to see more action, more things at the market. They brought it up,” she says of future renovations.
The Federal Hill Main Street Design Committee, chaired by architect Mike Burton, invited graduate architecture students from the University of Maryland, College Park and Morgan State University to submit plans for a makeover. Their design concepts were presented at a one-day event last month.
We talk to Seebold about future plans for the market, one of five that Baltimore Public Markets Corp. operates. 
Bmore Media (BM): How is the market doing?
Seebold: The market is functioning well. It’s a pretty lively place, especially on Saturdays. There are 20 to 25 stalls, of which two or three are vacant. Besides the empty stalls, people in the neighborhood feel the space is underutilized. The feeling is, it should be more attractive, more friendly looking and more connected to the neighborhood.
BM: Tell us about the student design competition.
Seebold: The design committee wanted to call attention to the market by reaching out to students and asking them, ‘What would you do?’ Over 100 people came to the event where the students presented their design projects.
BM: What were the students’ ideas?
Seebold: One idea was to open up the market by expanding the doors on the side, to let in more natural light. Another idea was to install a green roof on top of the market. Several of the designs incorporated urban gardens. For example, to close one of the streets on the side and create an urban green space with benches and possibly an outdoor eating area. There was a lot of interest in that idea. But an urban garden is for a new building, not the current building. There is no place to put a garden.
BM: What about the market’s vendors?
Seebold: The students’ ideas were more about the physical space than the vendors. Currently, the market has butchers, seafood, produce, delicatessens, a cheese shop, flower shops, an oyster bar, a sushi place, candy shop, bakeries and wireless phone accessories. The city chooses the tenants but we’re trying to start a conversation about what tenants we want in there – perhaps organic produce. The neighbors wanted a cheese shop and they got it.
BM: Where do you go from here?
Seebold: This is the first step in looking at whether it’s feasible to more forward with the market. The [community’s] response was greater than expected. Now that we know the community is interested, we can proceed.
We can explore the students’ ideas. Baltimore City has a big sustainability plan. There is no money for any major project but the design committee is looking over the comments people had and what is feasible. The ideas are unlikely to happen because they are large-scale but we may be able to pull out some pieces and work on those. We can see if we can raise funds for those pieces from the community and from the city.


Jane Seebold, Executive Director of Federal Hill Main Street / Photo by Steve Ruark

Cross Street Market redesign process / Photo courtesy Helen Huriaux, architecture student at University of Maryland, College Park 

Cross Street Market redesign process / Photo courtesy Federal Hill Main Street

Cross Street Market redesign process / Photo courtesy Federal Hill Main Street

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