Design panel endorses Hopkins bookstore plan

It would anchor dorm, retail district on 33rd St.

March 19, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Plans for an enlarged bookstore at the Johns Hopkins University received approval from the city's Design Advisory Panel yesterday, a key step in bringing to fruition the Homewood campus bookstore's much-anticipated move to 33rd and North Charles streets.

An expansive Barnes & Noble bookstore and cafe would be the anchor for a student dormitory and retail district on East 33rd Street between North Charles and St. Paul streets, university officials and architects said yesterday. The university would clear some low-slung brick buildings on the site to make way for two new lofty brick buildings, connected by a footbridge, that would house as many as 600 students. One building facing St. Paul Street will rise seven floors and another on North Charles Street will be nine stories, officials said.

Hopkins' bookstore is now housed in the basement of Gilman Hall in a cramped space. University and community officials have long said moving it across the street from the campus could make it a catalyst for more life and energy in the Charles Village streets around the North Baltimore campus.

Beth Bullamore, president of the Charles Village Civic Association, said after the meeting that she was pleased the project is moving forward.

"We see it as a real plus to get the students into increased dormitory space and we get a bookstore," Bullamore said. "When you say bookstore in our neighborhood, everybody starts grinning. And we really like the [bookstore] architecture."

The design panel, however, declined to approve the concept for a related project nearby - a five-story condominium and retail development planned for the east side of the 3200 block of St. Paul St.

Officials of Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, the developer of both projects, said they had acquired almost all the rowhouse real estate in the 3200 block.

Ed Hord, a principal architect on the St. Paul Street project, told the panel he envisioned a loftlike, industrial-style brick building with balconies that would suit young professionals. Hord said a ground-level restaurant might be a strong element for one of the corners.

As many as 68 units, most with two bedrooms, would be available for purchase on that side of St. Paul Street, said Linda T. Lo Cascio, the vice president of development for Struever Bros.

The six-member design panel told Hord he had made a good start, but gave him several points of advice for a return appearance for the St. Paul Street drawings. They included a more substantial entrance, a greater corner presence and more spacious lobbies.

Struever Bros. is also acquiring the west side of the 3200 block of St. Paul St., with the aim of redeveloping it for retail and residential use. Newly built condominiums on that side would appeal to empty-nesters, with more conservative architecture than the other side of the street, and would have parking space for 600 vehicles.

Approval of the design panel - which makes recommendations to the planning commission - is necessary before ground can be broken on the projects.

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