Opportunities on a Fast Track
Date: February 1, 2013
Last year, when Hugh Mosley clicked on an office email, he opened an invitation for employees on the East Baltimore medical campus to consider enrolling their children in new programs for early childhood and elementary school education.
After learning more about the individualized attention that the nearby Hopkins-Henderson School offered, the respiratory therapist at Kennedy Krieger toured the facility, talked to staff members and signed up his two young daughters. Praising the school’s small classes and its proximity to his work, Mosley says he’s quite pleased with the decision.
Owned by a nonprofit, the school is operated by The Johns Hopkins University School of Education through a contract with Baltimore City Public Schools. Hopkins-Henderson is seen as the linchpin of Johns Hopkins’ involvement in the redevelopment of an 88-acre area north of the East Baltimore campus. Johns Hopkins—the University and the Health System—has been a partner in the $1.8 billion mixed-use revitalization project since its inception in 2000.
“Since The Johns Hopkins Hospital opened in 1889, it has been dedicated to the well-being of its neighbors,” says Ronald R. Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “This commitment has been embodied and reinforced by our close collaboration with the efforts that now are under way to revitalize this area.”
The 20-year project is headed by East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI), a nonprofit formed by Baltimore City and the state of Maryland, and Forest City Enterprises Inc., a national real estate management firm. EBDI has faced criticism for the relocation of community residents and demolition of neighborhood houses as well as delays in job growth and new housing—a situation that EBDI leaders attribute to the nation’s economic downturn.
One of the project’s goals was to build a biotech park, taking advantage of the redevelopment area’s location next to the medical campus’ vast research enterprise. In 2008, the John G. Rangos Sr. Building opened with 270,000 square feet of life science laboratory and office space. It is now 90 percent occupied.
“The seeds sown many years ago are beginning to grow,” says Andy Frank, special adviser to University President Ronald J. Daniels on economic development and the university’s liaison to EBDI. Frank notes that roughly $300 million in construction projects were either completed or begun in 2012.
Thanks in large part to Johns Hopkins’ participation, the redevelopment area now features:
• A graduate student housing building at 929 N. Wolfe St. that is 85 percent occupied. The student health center for the campus has relocated here.
• A 1,500-space parking garage at Ashland and Washington streets, next to the graduate student housing. Walgreens is scheduled to open on the garage’s ground floor.
• A Harbor Bank branch and a 7-Eleven store on the first floor of the Rangos Building. Two restaurants, Teavolve and Cuban Revolution, are slated to open this spring.
• The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, which relocated to a renovated police station on Ashland Avenue.
Frank points out that the redevelopment area is moving closer to becoming the kind of amenity-rich community that will attract home buyers, renters, workers and restaurant customers. “Two years ago, we could not say with certainty to a prospective homebuyer or renter that there would be a world-class early childhood center and school, restaurants, drug store, hotel and high-speed Internet access. Now we can.”
But EBDI’s “headliner” project for 2013, according to Frank, is the permanent home for the Hopkins-Henderson School, as well as the opening of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center. Both give priority admission to children living in the redevelopment footprint and their siblings, as well as to children of people employed in the area, including the East Baltimore medical campus.
“What’s exciting and unprecedented about the project is that when the new facility opens, it will serve children from age 6 weeks to those in the eighth grade under one roof,” says Annette Anderson, assistant dean for community schools at The Johns Hopkins University. “The longer we have children in the program, the deeper the relationships between students, parents and the school and the greater likelihood of instructional success.”
Hopkins-Henderson is now operating at temporary quarters at 1101 N. Wolfe St. The new K-8 school will accommodate 540 students. The early childhood center, also operated by the school of education, will serve 174 children and will include the existing Early Head Start program run by the Department of Pediatrics.