Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 29, 2024

Charles Village is on course for a big make-over. After years of talk, an official presentation of the Charles Village Project was made at the Student Council (StuCo) meeting Tuesday, marking the official unveiling of the neighborhood redevelopment project.

If all goes as planned, construction will begin in January 2004 and a new bookstore and residential housing will be ready for use in the 2005-6 academic year.

"Very shortly, we'll be going public," said Paula Burger, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education, who presented the plan with Dean of Student Life Susan Boswell. They were joined by representatives from Johns Hopkins Real Estate and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse construction company.

The redevelopment plans for St. Paul St. were detailed in Powerpoint blueprints and floor plans, and the Office of Student Life is currently displaying pictures for student input.

The University has contracted with Struever Bros. for the reconstruction of University property on the northwest block of St. Paul and 33rd Streets. This property, which currently houses Ivy Hall and the Royal Farms convenience store, will be rebuilt to house a new Barnes & Nobles bookstore, dining facilities and student housing.

Struever Bros. will independently continue the development of Charles Village by reconstructing the east and west blocks of St. Paul St. south of 33rd St., turning local row houses into retail space and private condominiums.

Although several Charles Village residents remain staunch opponents of the redevelopment project, the majority "are very much in support," said Linda Lo Cascio, Senior Development Director with Struever Bros.

She said the company has already acquired many of the row houses facing St. Paul St, although it has been unsuccessful in purchasing the building that holds Subway. They hope to acquire the properties of both the Pi Kappy Alpha (Pike) and Alpha Delta Phi (Wawa) fraternities to proceed with their original plans.

"We're [Struever Bros.] planning to acquire and demolish them," Lo Cascio said.

Both the University and Struever Bros. have considered architectural and retail options that will benefit both students and city residents. Plans are in the works to attract merchants like Urban Outfitters, Panera Bread, and General Nutrition Center (GNC), as well as cosmetic shops, upscale restaurants and a wine bar.

"We want a sense of community and synergy with Charles Village," said David McDonough, Senior Director of Development Oversight for Johns Hopkins Real Estate, which oversees University property purchases.

According to Boswell, the Hopkins block project took inspiration from student commons areas such as Harvard Square. The University also consulted with "peer institutions" such as Duke University, Cornell University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Blueprints diagram two large brick edifices joined over the central ally by a glass hallway. The first floor enters into a coffee shop and bookstore, which will be over twice the size of the current 9,000 sq. ft facility in Gilman Hall. The second floor will hold a 31,637 sq. foot dining facility and the third floor will give security access to the residential floors above.

The projected buildings will be 10 stories high to compliment the surrounding architecture of Charles Village and will mask an internal parking garage.

The expansion plans for the Hopkins block come in response to student concerns in last year's University report from the Committee for Undergraduate Education (CUE).

"Students demonstrated a need for more housing opportunities and for a sense of community," Burger told StuCo. "It [the development project] will make a major difference in undergraduate life." Plans for the residential halls reflect student desires for private bedrooms, security and campus proximity. The new residential suites are compounds of private bedrooms sharing a bathroom and a half-kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator and sink. The 615 beds will first look to accommodate sophomores from the Bradford, and the remaining 300 beds will open to juniors and seniors on a voluntary basis. All residents will be required to have a partial meal plan, although the dining venues are also open to the community.

StuCo officers voiced several concerns such as including stovetops in the mini-kitchens and not requiring a meal plan.

The University selected Struever Bros. contractors from a pool of 60 firms.

"They have great expertise in this type of work [University housing]," said McDonough.

Although the architectural plans are more or less concrete, the project awaits approval before the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees the third week of October.

Aspirations to link the east and west campus with a walkway over or under Charles St. have fallen through. Access stairs for a bridge would have been too steep, while utilities and sewage pipes prevent tunneling under Charles St. The University plans to build a brick pedestrian path.

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