Campus project moves forward

Hopkins to build housing, bookstore, retail space

College-town atmosphere sought

May 17, 2002|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The Johns Hopkins University is moving forward with a new bookstore and commercial project across from its Homewood campus that will reshape the streetscape of Charles Village and, officials hope, foster a "college-town atmosphere" in the North Baltimore neighborhood.

The mixed-use project along 33rd Street between North Charles and St. Paul streets, to be completed by July 2005, will include student housing, parking, retail, office and restaurant space near the bookstore, taking up much of the block.

At least two university-owned structures - a university publications office and the Ivy Hall building, which houses students and a Royal Farm store - will be leveled to clear the L-shaped site.

A brick university garage facing St. Paul Street may or may not remain, but the site will be included in the redevelopment.

University officials said yesterday that no architect or developer has been chosen, but they will accept bids for proposals, which would help it choose a developer this summer or fall.

For years, the Hopkins community and Charles Street residents have lamented the separation between the campus and the colorful neighborhood across Charles Street.

Hopkins officials hope a mixed-use development anchored by a bookstore will evoke the lively street spirit of Harvard Square or Georgetown.

"Inside and outside we heard a unanimous call for a [bookstore] coffee shop and a college town atmosphere," said David McDonough, senior director of development for Johns Hopkins real estate. "We want to make this an inviting place for the community and for Hopkins." He declined to give a cost estimate for the project.

Hopkins officials have long discussed the possibility of a new location for the university's cramped bookstore, now in the basement of Gilman Hall, along with a bank, a post office, a travel agency and other businesses.

Barnes & Noble runs the existing bookstore. The now-bankrupt Bibelot bookstore chain approached Hopkins a few years ago about taking over the operation and relocating on the 33rd Street corner site. Those plans went nowhere.

Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea said one of the main goals of the university's 2000 master plan was to start building a stronger relationship with the community. That and the renovation of historic Gilman Hall scheduled to start in August 2005 reactivated the university's decision to proceed with its planned move of the bookstore and other businesses.

"This will have an ambience that will benefit the entire neighborhood, and it's strategically located to benefit the broader community," O'Shea said.

McDonough said that because the project will be between two tall apartment buildings, it could, under existing zoning, rise as high as eight or 10 stories staying true to its urban environment.

The owner and operator of the new university bookstore is uncertain, although officials said Barnes & Noble is likely to bid. "We'll go to the marketplace for a competitive process," McDonough said.

Neighbors and merchants called the project a encouraging sign of the area's continuing revival. At East 31st and North Charles streets, a smaller-scale Hopkins mixed-use project developed by the Cordish Co., has been successful with its XandO coffee shop, a Ruby Tuesday restaurant, a hair salon and other retail businesses.

Nobody seemed to mourn the impending loss of the buildings marked for demolition.

"It's not like it's an architectural gem," said Margery B. Daniels, a Hopkins research society executive director, as she looked at the publication's office.

"The benefits district has long been anticipating this investment, with our futures and fates intertwined," said Frank Jannuzi, president of the Charles Village Community Benefits District. "We appreciate the university has taken an active role in reaching out."

A Charles Village Civic Association meeting to discuss the concept with university officials will be held at SS. Philip and James Church, 2801 N. Charles St., at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.