Two years ago, the space was a vacant automobile dealership, featuring derelict buildings, cracked pavement and wasted potential. Today, it's the Monument Street satellite parking lot, home to 900 new parking spaces, offices for Hopkins transportation workers, security training facilities and a comfortable indoor waiting area for shuttle riders. About a mile and a half east of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in East Baltimore, it's also the first known parking facility in the area to offer services beyond a parking space. After work, Hopkins employees can pick up cars that have been serviced, repaired, washed, waxed or detailed.
Staffing the wash and wax service are employees of Operation PULSE, a crime prevention partnership started eight years ago by Hopkins, Broadway Services and a group known as CURE, for Clergy United for Renewal in East Baltimore.
"One of our ways of working to prevent crime is finding jobs for people," says Sam Redd, director of Operation PULSE. "We do a lot more--training and mentoring and helping people finish school--but finding employment is a very important part."
Hopkins leases the space at the Monument Street site to Operation PULSE, says Larry Cohen, Hopkins' director of parking and transportation services. "But we really are partners," he says. Their goal is to build a business that provides jobs, job training and funding for Operation PULSE, and we're proud to be part of their effort."
Cohen, who along with George Economas, assistant director of parking, scouted the location and suggested the on-site automotive service, says that finding adequate parking space for Hopkins employees was no picnic. "Almost as soon as we would lease a property for parking, the owners would give us notice that instead they were making way for a new hotel or restaurant," Cohen says. "So locating the Monument Street lot was very lucky for us."
After Hopkins purchased the lot, the old car showroom and used-car trailer were demolished and its large service center was reduced to about 20 percent of its original size. The new service center, staffed by skilled technicians, services all of Hopkins' fleet vehicles and is available to all employees for car maintenance, from a simple oil change to a complete overhaul.
The new lot has been a big hit with employees, says Ronald R. Peterson, president of the health system and hospital and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Our employees like it because it's convenient, there's no waiting, and it offers high-quality service with very reasonable prices."