Officials from East Baltimore Development Inc. outlined guidelines yesterday to potential developers looking to submit bids for the demolition of 500 units north of the Johns Hopkins medical complex, a project set to begin June 2.
About 15 contractors took a tour of the project area, peppering EBDI with questions. Much of the developers' concern centered around an accelerated schedule calling for the work to be done by Oct. 31., two months ahead of the original schedule.
EBDI officials said the change was made to avoid weather-related problems in the winter.
This month, EBDI held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a $120 million building in the new biotech park. It was the first phase of an extensive urban renewal project, an 80-acre development that will take 12 to 15 years to complete and cost $1.2 billion.
Supporters hope the project will transform East Baltimore into a technology hub.
The area focused on yesterday is bounded by Eager Street to the north, Ashland Avenue to the south, McDonogh Street to the west and Washington Street to the east. Most of the buildings in that radius are boarded up or falling apart, and the last of the former residents moved out earlier this year.
Jack Shannon, president and chief executive of EBDI, estimates that 75 percent of the buildings were abandoned before residents were relocated. Nearly 250 families were moved.
"Eventually, we'll have 950 units of new housing," said Shannon, adding: "To do all of this new building and put up all this new housing, we need to have clear sites. ... This is an incredibly important part of our development. We cannot have a safe neighborhood without getting rid of the vacant buildings here in East Baltimore."
Many of the relocated residents were moved to the Bel Air-Edison neighborhood, according to Bernard Hutchins, manager of the EBDI's Community Resource Center.
"The majority of them are satisfied with the move, but not necessarily with their new surroundings," Hutchins said.
Once the space is cleared, construction is expected to begin on a science life building, parking lots, retail space, a senior living facility and possibly a school, according to Robin Carter-Morton, director of operations for EBDI. A meeting is set for next week with residents about potential usage for the area, Morton said.
Representatives from the Mayor's Office of Employment Services, East Baltimore Community Corp. and an environmental monitor will also be present at the two-hour meeting.
Moving debris safely and protecting against possible lead poisoning were stressed by EBDI officials. Minority business participation for the project will be at least 35 percent.
"If someone does not meet the minority stipulations, they will not get [the bid]," said Robert C. Penn, executive vice president and chief operating officer of EBDI.