Community elated by Hopkins bid

March 02, 1995|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,Sun Staff Writer

Community leaders near the old Eastern High School were thrilled yesterday to hear that the Johns Hopkins University wants to redevelop the long abandoned and vandalized school building across from Memorial Stadium for a satellite campus.

"They're the ideal tenant because of the stability they offer," said Jim Fendler, co-chair of the Waverly Improvement Association.

"I'm very excited. Elated would be a mild term," he added.

Mr. Fendler and other community leaders said that although they have yet to see details of the Hopkins proposal, they hope the university would save the stately building, constructed in 1939.

"There's a lot of sentimental value to the community to see it there as it stands," Mr. Fendler said.

Sandy Sparks, executive director of the Greater Homewood Community Corp., an umbrella group that covers the stadium area, said, "It would be great for the community and would create an anchor there.

"It will mean jobs and will shore up Waverly, Ednor Gardens and CHUM [Coldstream Homestead Montebello]," she said of the residential communities surrounding Eastern High School.

She also said a new campus might revive failing commercial businesses on nearby Greenmount Avenue by bringing in new shoppers and lunch-time trade.

Hopkins sent its proposal to Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC), which would not release it this week.

Ross Jones, vice president and secretary for Hopkins, declined yesterday to give details of the proposal other than to note that a medical research campus was not a certainity. He also said there would be no dormitories built at the site.

The high school building, across from Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, has been vacant for nine years, and vandals have broken windows and set fires inside. The city cleaned up the building by boarding its windows last year when Baltimore's Canadian Football League team moved into the stadium.

Community leaders have already voiced opposition to another proposal for a shopping center to be built on the 26-acre school site.

A shopping center is a "bad idea for a number of reasons," said Ednor Gardens Community Association President Betsey Foster.

"One is the traffic. The second is that we're pretty well served by a number of shopping centers in the area," she said, adding that a new shopping center could hurt the already ailing Greenmount Avenue commercial strip.

Businesses renting space in a new shopping center also could be unpredictable and transient.

"With Hopkins you know what you're dealing with," she said.

Before any plan is approved by the city, it will be reviewed by the mayor's Stadium Task Force, made up of community leaders and city officials. In addition, BDC officials said the agency's review would take about one month.

Mr. Fendler said he hopes Hopkins will include a place in its plans for the new Stadium School, a community-run public school for children who live near the stadium. The school is operating temporarily outside the neighborhood until a suitable space is found near the students' homes.

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