On the Fast Track
Date: June 7, 2013
An 88-acre parcel north of the East Baltimore campus is moving closer to becoming the kind of amenity-rich community that will attract homebuyers, 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,” says Andy Frank, special adviser to university President Ronald J. Daniels on economic development and the university’s liaison to the East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI).
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.
The 20-year project is headed by 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.
Now, however, “the seeds sown many years ago are beginning to grow,” says Frank, who 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.
• The John G. Rangos Sr. Building, opened in 2008 with 270,000 square feet of life science laboratory and office space. It is now 90 percent occupied.
• 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.
A linchpin for the entire effort, and EBDI’s “headliner” project for 2013, according to Frank, is the planned opening in September of a permanent home for a new K-8 school—operated by Hopkins’ School of Education through a contract with Baltimore City Public Schools—that will accommodate 540 students. (The Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School operated this past academic year at temporary quarters at 1101 N. Wolfe St.)
September will also see the opening of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center, also operated by the School of Education, which will serve 174 children and will include the existing Early Head Start program run by the Department of Pediatrics.
Both give priority admission to children living in the redevelopment area 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 Johns Hopkins University.
“The longer we have children in the program, the deeper the relationships between students, parents, and the school and the greater the likelihood of instructional success.” Patrick Gilbert