University's decision to convert part of...

THE JOHNS HOPKINS

March 23, 1996

THE JOHNS HOPKINS University's decision to convert part of its Homewood Apartments to retail uses and office space is just what Charles Village needs.

When the $17-million modernization of the seven-story colossus at Charles and 31st Streets begins this summer, it ought to help the rejuvenation of the shopping area on St. Paul Street.

This area has a supermarket, bank, liquor store, flower shop and a handful of eateries. But for the past several years it has not

had a book store. It is hard to think of any other university shopping area without a book store.

Barnes & Noble operates a book store on the Hopkins campus. But it is so well hidden in a basement it serves few members of the general public in a city with a shortage of good book stores.

There have been rumors in recent months that a major book operator is looking for a store location near the new Safeway supermarket that will soon be built on the old public school administration site on 25th Street. Considering that the area already has three used book stores, that would be a good match.

Many Charles Villagers are vocally opposed to any new construction on 25th Street that would necessitate demolition of old buildings. But at what point do redundant, vacant or underused buildings become a drag that pulls a neighborhood down?

The interest of such chains as Rite Aid and Blockbuster is so strong that negotiations continue about other sites. This is promising. An influx of viable businesses is the best guarantee of Charles Village's future viability. FOUR YEARS AFTER the Los Angeles riots, a new race relations poll says three out of four Marylanders think race relations are "only fair" or "poor."

Fifty percent of those polled said race relations were "only fair," 25 percent termed them "poor," 21 percent rated matters "good" and 1 percent called them "excellent."

Whites were a bit more optimistic. Twenty-four percent of whites said race relations were "good," compared with 12 percent of blacks; 32 percent of blacks said race relations were "poor," compared with 23 percent of whites.

The Maryland results mirror other polls nationally. That is not surprising. The arguments over the need for special programs to help minorities and over whether a black celebrity killed his white former wife have spotlighted the different perspectives the two races have of life in this country.

That divergence of thought cuaght many people off guard. Some wrongly believed interaction on the job was enough to foster good race relations. They still resist the glaring lesson that familiarity in the workplace won't by itself lead to racial understanding.

Neither will school integration alone make black and white families friendlier. It helps. But it has spurred white flight. Many neighborhoods are as racially distinct now as 50 years ago, but poorer and inhabited by a different race. Can we all get along? Not until we learn to live with each other.

Pub Date: 3/23/96

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