Miracle on 25th Street Retail corridor: A year after large supermarket opened, commercial stretch is poised for comeback.

May 17, 1998

IT IS AMAZING what one magnet store can do.

Look at Charles and 25th streets, where Safeway opened a 45,000-square-foot supermarket a year ago. After decades of decline, that once-thriving retail area is poised for a comeback.

The old Hollander restaurant at 14 E. 25th St., which recently housed the Charles Village Community Benefits District headquarters, has been sold. It will be demolished this summer to make way for a big video store.

Near the corner of Howard Street, Anderson Automotive Group is planning a $1 million showroom.

And the 54-year-old Children's Theater Association, which has been holding performances in borrowed venues, is seeking to buy and renovate the nearby Playhouse Theater.

The boarded-up Astor Court Apartments at St. Paul and 25th streets is to be turned into 55 market-rate apartments, with expanded retail on the ground floor. A similar face-lift is due for a vacant building at the other corner.

"It is really acting as a catalyst," Dominic Wiker, who until recently was a benefits district coordinator, said of the Safeway.

It's ironic that many activists fought the store, fearing it would bring new problems.

This infusion of private investment is good news for Baltimore. It is particularly heartening because commercial revitalization in the heart of Charles Village, six blocks north, seems to have stalled.

The Johns Hopkins University was to provide stimulus by relocating the campus bookstore. That is still the intent, but snags have developed.

We hope those complications can be worked out. The sooner Charles Village gets an anchor, the quicker it can begin to replicate the miracle on 25th Street.

Pub Date: 5/17/98

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