The Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 13, 2002
May 13, 2002
VOL. 31, NO. 34


University Embarks on Charles Village Project

Community input sought for new development to be anchored by bookstore

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The university has formally entered the concept stage for the long-anticipated redevelopment of Hopkins-owned property located across from the Charles Street entrance to Homewood campus.

Currently referred to as the Charles Village Project, the development is envisioned as one element in establishing a "college town hub"that will serve both the university and community. The facility will meet Hopkins' need for additional student housing, parking, offices and retail space, anchored by a new university bookstore; in addition, it is expected to be a catalyst for developers and small-business owners to add shops, amenities and other attractive features to the village.

"This project, consistent with the concepts of the Homewood master plan completed two years ago, affords a strong linkage of Hopkins activities and people on the campus west of Charles Street into the communities to the east," says James McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration. "Hopkins views this project as a unique opportunity to continue the recent progress in tying the campus and community more closely together."

The timetable of the development is being driven by the planned renovations to Gilman Hall, currently scheduled to begin in August 2005, which will necessitate the relocation of the building's nonacademic tenants, including the Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union, AllFirst Bank, Council Travel, a post office and the campus bookstore.

David McDonough, senior director of development oversight for Johns Hopkins Real Estate, says, "Because of this deadline, we need to be in position to have new buildings built on what is now called the Charles Village site in order to facilitate a relocation for those located in the basement of Gilman Hall."

The planned development will sit on an L-shaped parcel bounded by 33rd, 34th, North Charles and St. Paul streets. The site is the current home of the Ivy Hall housing facility, the Homewood Garage and the 3301 N. Charles St. building, whose main occupant is the Office of Design and Publications.

A public discussion on the project is scheduled for 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, at the Saints Philip and James Church, located at 2801 N. Charles St. Representatives from Hopkins and the Charles Village Civic Association will lead the dialogue.

The upcoming meeting, according to McDonough, is an opportunity for neighborhood residents to be brought up-to-date on the status of the project and to voice input as to "what they would like to see go there, and what they would not like to see."

"In addition to making space for the dislocated tenants of Gilman and meeting student housing needs, the university has the desire to work with the community to see what can be done to help enhance the retail and parking nature of Charles Village," McDonough said. "We are in the fact-finding stage right now. We want to make sure we understand both Hopkins' needs and the community's needs before we go to the marketplace to find a developer."

The developer, to be determined by a competitive bid process, will cover development costs and manage the property while the university retains ownership of the land. Under the terms of a ground lease agreement, Hopkins will retain various approval rights over the development.

McDonough said his office is looking to find a mixed-use developer who has experience working not only with colleges but also with communities similar to Charles Village. "We need to have the right design, the right density to meet our needs and also maintain the sense of character for what exists in Charles Village," he said.

The project's planning and design stage is expected to start in fall 2002 with plans and specifications scheduled to be completed by fall 2003, when construction could begin.

McDonough emphasized that the planning process is in the early stages and that there are no specific plans at this point.

"We know we have a need for retail space, student housing, parking and office space, but how, within the confines of this block, we can accommodate those needs is really what this planning process is about," he said. "We think this area can be an even more desirable college town environment, not only for Hopkins but for Charles Village, Oakenshawe, Hampden, Wyman Park, Tuscany-Canterbury, Guilford, Remington, Abell and all our neighbors."

Salem Reiner, the university's coordinator of community relations, said that with a neighborhood bookstore as its cornerstone, the project could be a strong economic development tool for the "underserved" area.

Reiner noted that it is the university's objective to create an integrated asset for the entire community, from a design perspective and as a resource for those who live, work and recreate in the area.

"There is a relatively low level of retail activity in this area currently," Reiner said. "This development can begin the process of enhancing the retail and dining opportunities offered in Charles Village."

Reiner added that it's critical to the success of the project that the university receives input from the community during each step of the planning process.

"We are strongly encouraging the Hopkins community and local residents to come out on May 22 and hear about this project," Reiner said. "The more involvement, the better."