Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 12, 2024

After nearly three months of consultation with community members, local businesses and University representatives, Baltimore developers are still working out plans for the Charles Village Project, which includes the construction of a new JHU bookstore and student housing, as well as redevelopment of the 3200 block of St. Paul Street.

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc. (SBE&R), the Baltimore-based real estate development company in charge of the project, created the Charles Village Task Force in February. Composed of representatives from community and business associations, non-profits and institutions, the task force has met three times since its inception to discuss development plans.

According to Charles Reyner, task force student representative, discussions focused on the St. Paul Street development, a smaller project than proposed JHU building construction.

Plans for the west side of St. Paul Street between 33rd and 32nd Streets include ground-floor retail, approximately 40 market-rate apartments and a parking garage for 500 cars and office space. Preliminary blueprints obtained by The News-Letter depict plans for the east side of St. Paul Street, which include ground-floor retail area topped by residential space. The residential space will contain 190 market-rate apartments, and a parking area located directly behind the retail/residential space will include approximately 58 parking spaces.

The blueprints for the east side were revised after residents of the 3200 block of Calvert Street and the unit block of East 32nd Street expressed concerns regarding building heights and unsightly views.

The revised plans, presented by Development Director Dominic Wiker at the Charles Village Task Force meeting April 21, depicted lower elevations along Hargrove Street. In addition, the rear of the building will be tiered in order to avoid the appearance of a solid wall facing the rear yards.

According to Richard Lipscher, a resident of East 32nd Street and member of the North Village Residents' Committee, a large concern amongst area residents is adequate parking.

"The City doesn't take into account that these houses were once single family dwellings," Lipscher said. "With Hopkins growing so fast ... as it stands, there are six to eight students in a house, each with a residential parking pass."

Lipscher fears the construction of more residential space might exacerbate the problem and hopes Hopkins will build adequate parking facilities.

Reyner said "student parking is not on the priority list" for developers.

"Added retail will create a parking crunch ... [but] no one has addressed this yet," said Reyner.

At its next meeting, scheduled for May 12, the task force will discuss the results of a traffic and parking study currently underway.

Other points raised by community members included the importance of maintaining the character and architectural look of Charles Village. Lipscher said residents have requested that designers use red brick, plant trees, install gas lamps and provide places to sit.

According to Reyner, the task force will face challenges in balancing what residents want with what students want.

"Students want more retail, while residents want a nice neighborhood ... [and] to increase the value of their homes," Reyner said.

Karen Hilton, acting director of the Baltimore Department of Planning, said effective planning requires "balancing the broader community, historical character and needs of the campus."

Lipscher said St. Paul Street's east side development is farther ahead in planning because its homeowners got together to speak with developers.

"I'm really amazed," Lipscher said. "[The developers] have been very receptive."

The east side of the 3200 block of St. Paul is currently occupied by rowhouses, which will eventually be torn down to make room for new construction. SBE&R offered rowhouse tenants the option of a six-month extension on leases, but most decided to move out, according to SBE&R Development Director Adrienne Bell.

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