Johns Hopkins Gazette | May 11, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 11, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 34
University Buys 'Strategic' Charles Village Property

Acquisition is for future development in university-community interest

By Dennis O'Shea

The Johns Hopkins University on Thursday bought 1.13 acres in the 3200 block of St. Paul Street in Baltimore, calling the parcel a strategic acquisition for future development that will advance the interests of both the university and its Charles Village neighbors.

The university purchased the land for $12.5 million from CJUF Charles Village LLC, a joint venture of Canyon Johnson Urban Fund II and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse. The joint venture had intended to develop a mixed-use project called the Olmsted on the site.

The location — on the southeast corner of St. Paul and 33rd streets — is important to both Johns Hopkins and its neighbors, said James T. McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration at the university. The property is a block east of the university's Homewood campus, across 33rd Street from its Charles Commons mixed-use student residence hall and at the north end of the St. Paul Street commercial corridor

Though the university will not build on the land immediately, Johns Hopkins' leadership felt it was important to buy it when it was available and ensure that the eventual development of the site serves the interests of both town and gown, McGill said.

"This is a strategic purchase," McGill said. "We want to make sure that, when the time is right, we are in a position to develop a project that accomplishes what we all want: enhancing the vitality and livability of a great Baltimore neighborhood."

Though no specific long-term university use for the site has been identified yet, McGill said, Johns Hopkins is committed to the community's vision that there should be a street-level retail component to whatever is built. He said the university agrees with the Charles Village community's and the city's desire that off-street parking should also be a part of the project.

The timeline for development depends, among other things, on the recovery of the U.S. economy and on the results of the university's planning process, which could take a few years. The university said it also intends to continue the extensive community consultation process that — beginning in 2003 — characterized the design and development of the university's Charles Commons project and CJUF LLC's Village Lofts condominium development. Those two projects share the intersection of St. Paul and 33rd with the property bought by the university today.

The university said that, in the short term, it intends to address the community's, the city's and the university's needs by building surface parking on the site. The paid parking lot will be open to the public. Details, including the lot's design, construction and management, are under development.


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