An aging dowager in need of attention Lexington Market: As shopping patterns change, landmarks must keep up with competition.

March 28, 1998

EVER SINCE Harborplace opened in 1980, the "world famous Lexington Market" has played second fiddle in Baltimore.

Its shabbiness will become more apparent as new Inner Harbor attractions open for the tourist season.

The food and produce vendors of Lexington Market have been part of the city since at least 1803. Today, the market presents a dichotomy: Its occupancy is high and its quasi-governmental operating company is making a profit, but many merchants wonder about the emporium's future. Overall sales volume may have remained stable, but the client base is not expanding.

Particularly noticeable has been the decline of Saturday sales, mer- chants say. They are also worried because the market does not draw more of the 25,000 students, employees, patients and visitors from the nearby University of Maryland professional and medical institutions on weekdays.

Sun readers complain that going to the Lexington Market is no longer the joyous experience it once was. Panhandlers and illegal vendors are a problem inside the market as well as on nearby streets. The Eutaw Street entrance to the Arcade building often is blocked by loiterers.

The security and atmosphere of this city landmark must be improved. The governing body should do what any purely

commercial mall management would do -- insist on better booth appearance and a better selection of merchandise.

Lexington Market remains a Baltimore jewel, but it has become tarnished.

Pub Date: 3/28/98

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