Hopkins' reinvestment

May 06, 2002

FOR YEARS, Baltimore boosters have been dreaming about a "Big Bang" - a local burst of development akin to the birth of the universe. The announcement that Johns Hopkins medical institutions plan to spend $1 billion over the next eight years to upgrade their East Baltimore campus promises to be part of such a momentous chain reaction.

Together with two separate projects, an $800 million biotech park and the city's ambitious plan to redevelop the old Church Home and Hospital site into a residential area, this commitment has the potential to transform the dank Broadway corridor and link it more closely to the downtown business district.

The 52-acre campus will not expand as a result of the plan. Instead, four major medical and research towers will rise near two recently built cancer facilities, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg and the Bunting Blaustein buildings. Considerable infrastructure spending on other structures - from a big new garage to power installations - also is envisioned.

The health system's president, Ronald R. Peterson, describes these improvements as part of "the hospital of the future." They will be the foundation for other modernization plans over the next four decades.

In the early 1970s, Hopkins trustees seriously discussed moving the medical operations out of East Baltimore, where they were created in the 1880s. While the trustees decided against a move, the possibility of relocation remained as new suburban branches were built to meet patient demand there. The new master plan removes all uncertainty about the campus' future.

In fact, planned improvements along Orleans and Fayette streets will tie the campus more firmly not only with the City Hall area but also with the redevelopment unfolding along the harbor.

That can't be anything but good news for that area of Baltimore - and by extension, for the city as a whole.

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