While appreciation for the new businesses in Charles Village may not be unanimous, it is heartening to know that so many students, locals and business owners are pleased with the neighborhood's new face. We harbored some misgivings at first, worried that existing stores would be put out to pasture by the new offerings, but it would appear that those concerns were unfounded.
There seems to be little doubt that Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Chipotle and the like have infused Charles Village with new life. Traffic at these businesses is also increasing interest in the shops that pre-dated them. It seems to be a win all around.
That being said, we are not at all surprised to learn that the Village Lofts are selling poorly, or that development on the Olmsted remains at a standstill. The area between East University Parkway and 30th street is a college town, through and through. That's not to say that others don't live here, but the Hopkins student body dominates the area. Just who do the proprietors of the Village Lofts and Olmsted intend to sell their apartments to?
Students are obviously out of the question. A $400,000 apartment is pretty far out of the average student's price range. What is more, given the overwhelming presence of the University and its students, few with the means to own such housing are likely to be interested. How many established adults are really looking to move into the mayhem that surrounds a University? Drunk students shouting from (and to) the rooftops each night don't generally attract the yuppie crowd.
The developers probably think that Charles Village is the next Canton, but what it really is, in the area immediately surrounding campus, at least, is whatever the students will support. That doesn't include homes they can't afford.
Regardless of the fates of the Village Lofts and the Olmsted, Charles Village appears to be heading in the right direction. Of course, there are areas in which the neighborhood is still lacking. For one thing, we await the return of Uni Mini. Even more useful would be a convenience store/pharmacy like CVS, Rite Aid, or a local edition of these franchises. Charles Village is also sorely lacking in vegetarian options. An electronics or computer store would be nice, too.
We still caution against overrunning Charles Village with big chains, but there is a place for all kinds here. Hopefully, future generations of Hopkins students will welcome them and continue to support the improvements going on around us.