Hopkins campus downtown will double in size Plan for site of Hamburger's could help revitalize area

November 13, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

In a strong show of faith in downtown Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins University plans to double the size of its campus there by moving to a more prominent location that will provide added visibility and room for growth.

University representatives are scheduled to announce today their decision to occupy the former Hamburger's clothing store, a three-story structure on the southwest corner of Charles and Fayette streets that will be almost completely rebuilt to accommodate Hopkins.

Baltimore attorney and Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos, who acquired the vacant Hamburger's building in 1997, plans to transform it at a cost of $6.1 million into the Johns Hopkins University Downtown Center, with a Times Square-style news ticker stretching along two sides.

The building, which is scheduled to open in fall 2000, will house the downtown branch of Hopkins' School of Continuing Studies and will serve as administrative headquarters for the university's Graduate Division of Business and Management.

Hopkins' 10-year lease on the 40,000-square-foot building, by drawing thousands of students and professionals, particularly at night and on weekends, is expected to help spark a rebirth of Charles Center, the 33-acre renewal area where the reconstruction of downtown Baltimore began more than 40 years ago.

Angelos has pledged to donate $2.8 million to Hopkins' School of Continuing Studies to support programs at the new downtown center.

"For more than 10 years, Hopkins has realized the benefits of having a campus in the center of Baltimore," said university President William R. Brody. "We are excited to have an even greater visibility downtown and an opportunity to contribute to the area's revitalization."

Hopkins' move to Charles and Fayette streets -- from its current downtown center two blocks north of the Hamburger's building in Charles Plaza -- "heralds the second renaissance of Charles Center and, eventually, all of downtown Baltimore," said Angelos, a Hopkins trustee and leader in efforts to revitalize Baltimore's central business district.

"This is a big one," as far as providing "a psychological lift" for the center city, Angelos said. "Hopkins is planting its flag at Charles and Fayette. They are saying, 'We believe in downtown. We think downtown is the place to be.' "

The move will help strengthen the core of the city, said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "It is another vote of confidence in the future of downtown. I want to thank Peter Angelos for his help in making this happen."

Downtown since 1987

Hopkins has had a downtown presence since 1987, when it opened its current downtown center at Charles and Saratoga streets.

The 18,000-square-foot center is one of several sites of the School of Continuing Studies, which has branches in Columbia, Rockville, Shady Grove and Washington. The school's graduate division is based at 201 N. Charles St. in Baltimore.

The move was prompted by Hopkins administrators' desire to bring all of their downtown operations under one roof and to occupy a location more visible than Charles Plaza, where classrooms are set back from the street and are mixed in with specialty retailers.

In addition, a business group led by Jimmy Rouse and Kemp Bynes has been promoting a plan to transform Charles Plaza into an "urban entertainment center" with shops, restaurants and possibly a cinema complex that could help revitalize Charles Street. They couldn't proceed with their plan unless Hopkins agreed to move.

$1.6 million purchase

Angelos has been seeking a high-quality tenant for the vacant Hamburger's building, one block south of his law offices at One Charles Center. A leader in efforts to revive Charles Center, he bought the Hamburger's building for $1.6 million last year and arranged for the city to tear down a portion that spanned Fayette Street, leaving the rest for redevelopment.

Hopkins officials say the Hamburger's building is ideal for their purposes because it will be more visible, allows Hopkins to be the sole tenant and is in the heart of downtown, near where many prospective students live or work.

The downtown center draws 2,500 students a year for academic and professional programs with day, evening and weekend classes, including credit and noncredit business courses in management, technology, marketing, information systems, finance and organizational development.

The average downtown center student is 34 years old, and 75 percent live or work in the Baltimore area. Programs at the new location will include the Allan L. Berman Real Estate Institute and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute, which Hopkins operates in cooperation with the Baltimore Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Courses also are offered through the school's Professional Development Institute, where about 1,600 business professionals take noncredit courses in such areas as database management, information systems technology and computer programming.

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