Hopkins to join in housing, hotel plan

Mixed-use community envisioned to replace projects near hospital

April 17, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

A public housing project next to the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore will be torn down to make way for a mixed-use community with a hotel, library, garage and housing if the city can obtain a federal grant to help pay for it.

City officials plan to apply in May for a federal "Hope VI" revitalization grant to replace the vacant 22-story Broadway Tower and the 99-unit Broadway Homes near the southeast corner of Broadway and Orleans Street.

The project is the next step in the city's effort to replace substandard public housing throughout the city. Baltimore's Housing Authority already has received federal funds to rebuild six communities: Pleasant View Gardens, Lexington Terrace, Murphy Homes, Flag House Courts, Cherry Hill and Hollander Ridge.

At a public hearing Thursday night, housing chief Daniel P. Henson III said this would be the first federally funded housing reconstruction project in Baltimore to include the Johns Hopkins Health System.

He said the project's lead developer is Landex Corp. of Warwick, R.I., and that the team gradually expanded to include Hopkins and others as the planning progressed.

"This is the beginning of a beautiful love affair," Henson said. "We're schmoozing each other. Think of the things we can do with Hopkins."

Other members of the development team include the Chance Center and The GATE (Gaining Access to Training and Employment), two nonprofit groups that help match people with jobs; MetroVentures/USA and Choice Hotels International; the Enoch Pratt Free Library; the housing authority; and the residents of Broadway Homes.

Preliminary plans call for the construction of 112 cooperative residences -- 94 townhouses and 18 apartments; a 15,000-square-foot library branch; street-level retail space; about 1,500 parking spaces for Hopkins and others; a 150-room, eight-story hotel; and a 5,000-square-foot community center.

Hopkins, whose Comprehensive Cancer Center is nearing completion on the next block, would be the primary user of the garage. With five levels above ground and two levels below, it would be wrapped by commercial buildings and other uses so the cars wouldn't be visible from the street.

With rooms costing about $100 a night, the hotel would serve people visiting Hopkins and Church Home and Hospital. The hotel would be the only one in Baltimore owned by a group headed by African-Americans -- MetroVentures/USA.

Designed to look like other Baltimore townhouses, the residences would have two to four bedrooms, brick exteriors, private back yards and full basements. Fifty percent would be offered at "market rate," and 50 percent would be offered at subsidized rates for residents eligible for public housing assistance.

Although the city has no firm cost estimates for the project, it likely would exceed $50 million. A hotel alone could cost $17 million, according to an earlier proposal by MetroVentures. The 112 residences would cost $5.6 million if each unit cost $50,000, and the price of the seven-level garage would be $30 million if each space cost $20,000 to build, a standard estimate.

Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh has been the master planner for the project. Gant Hart Brunnett Architects of Baltimore has worked on plans for the hotel.

Henson said the 7-acre parcel occupies an important location in East Baltimore, and the replacement project has the potential to serve as a catalyst for additional development.

Henson said the preliminary plan was developed after a series of meetings that involved the housing authority, developers and residents of Broadway Homes, and is still subject to change.

He added that the agency considered a proposal from Metro- Ventures to save the 22-story tower and recycle it as a hotel. But, he said, he decided it would make more sense to replace it with a newer structure.

"It's ugly," he said of the tower. "We can do better."

Other public meetings on the plan will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 29 and May 11 in the Community Center at Pleasant View Gardens, 201 N. Aisquith St.

City officials say they hope to learn by Sept. 1 whether the application is successful. If so, residents of the townhouses would be relocated by year's end to make way for the new development, and the high-rise would come down in early 2000, they said.

Pub Date: 4/17/99

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