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Cross Street Market merchants threatened by closure organize rally

Merchants at Cross Street Market in Federal Hill are organizing a rally on Thursday as they press their case to receive compensation for the costs they say they will incur as the market closes for a $6.5 million renovation.

Baltimore officials in November approved an agreement that turned management of the market over to CSM Ventures, an affiliate of Towson developer Caves Valley Partners. The firm is planning to renovate the center, which dates to the 1950s, closing the market for a roughly 10 months of construction starting this spring.

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About 17 merchants remain at the market, many of them on month-to-month leases. They will be forced to close or relocate during the renovation. Some will not be invited back.

The merchants have written to Mayor Catherine Pugh and Kirby Fowler, board chair of the nonprofit that runs the city's public markets, seeking money for relocation expenses, citing the compensation offered merchants at Belair Market, which closed in the 1990s and was later demolished.

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The lease with CSM Ventures, which could run up to 50 years, requires the firm to make $10,000 monthly payments and provides terms for profit-sharing with the Baltimore Public Markets Corp., the nonprofit Baltimore officials created to run the city's public markets. The city and markets corporation are contributing $2 million to the renovation.

The "last stand" rally is happening at the market at 6 p.m Thursday.

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