BALTIMORE (WJZ)– For more than 170 years, people have gathered in south Baltimore along Cross Street to trade money for goods. The market has evolved and will soon be demolished and rebuilt, but as Mike Schuh reports, the current merchants feel left out.
When the market burned in 1951, it was rebuilt and made fireproof but time has acted as a modern firestorm.
For 26 years, Bruce Lee has turned out memorable sweet spicy chicken wings. Customers say he’s a treasure and he feels like a disappointment.
“We became nothing and nobody in this whole process,” said Lee of Bruce Lee’s Wings.
The merchants like him, are being frozen out of the year long process to demolish and rebuild Cross Street.
“They can not shut down for a whole year and expect us to just come back and just casually redo all the stuff. We can’t, unless there’s help,” he said.
While an advisory group says there are 11 nearby storefronts or spaces in the Hollins or Lexington Markets where Bruce and others could move to. He’s unhappy that there’s not financial help.
“Even if I can find a space around here, I don’t have money and resources to start all over again.”
If he can survive the year his reward will be double the hours and triple the rent.
“They raise the bar so high, we existing merchants can’t touch the bar.”
If the merchants are what makes the market unique, customers fear to lose them is to lose what’s special.
“Feel like cheers: a place where everybody knew your name, you can’t go no more,” said Mark Gatewood.
The merchants are looking for help. A rally. A last stand on Thursday. Where they hope their customers will tell the City, the ultimate owners, that they matter.
WJZ reached out to the management company that’s now in charge of the market and renovation to find out what they plan to do with the merchants. They did not get back.
The rally will be held inside the market at 6 pm Thursday.