Alan Fish, the Vice President of Real Estate and Campus Services, spoke at the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting in Mason Hall on Tuesday.
Fish informed the SGA that the current road construction is an integral part of a five year engineering plan to improve student safety, social life and overall school spirit.
Fish conducted a “My Campus Interactive Survey” in Jan. 2012, which reported on students’ favorite hangout spots.
“I have to say, you guys are doing a lot of socializing in the classrooms...the top place that [students] socialize is in the library,” Fish said. “The second highest was in the dorms...this tells us many things, but above all it tells us that we don’t have many great spaces for students to socialize.”
To increase the quality of student social life and decrease the number of late-nights in the library, he proposed that a hotel be built on the Olmstead Lot, across the street from Barnes and Noble.
“One of the benefits of a hotel is that it will bring in really great restaurants that want to be in Charles Village,” Fish said. “As well as other services to support the travelers that will be there, giving students some more local options when they want to hang out.”
In addition, Fish plans to build student life centers and cafes at Homewood using the space between the Mattin Center and the Beach.
He wants to move all academic offices out of the Mattin Center, place those uprooted offices in Levering and move the Levering Food Court into the newly liberated space.
Fish seeks to turn Charles Village into a safe-haven for students looking to unwind.
“I think that Charles Village is the best place, geographically, for student socializing because you have the Beach and the Charles Street Market and many of the dorms right there,” Fish said. “Now, with the addition of Brody Learning Commons, it seems to be the most natural progression. By doing this, we can resuscitate our school spirit and make Charles Village the heart of campus life.”
With the image of a revitalized Charles Village in mind, Fish also wants to widen sidewalks on both North Charles and 33rd Street.
This would decrease the overall traffic flow through campus. He also plans to lay down brick crosswalks, adding to campus safety as well as campus aesthetics.
“When you walk out into Charles Village, you don’t feel like you’re at Hopkins, you feel like you’re out on the streets of Baltimore...we’d like to change that,” Fish said.
Fish would also, if possible, like to remove 34th street entirely and turn the space into a walk-through plaza. This would allow residents of Wolman, McCoy and Charles Commons to feel like they are a part of Homewood Campus.
This plan, however, will be hard to execute due to legal disputes with the city of Baltimore and the possibility of insurmountable inconveniences to the surrounding residential area.
All of Fish’s plans, if successful, will be completed within five years.
The first project Fish plans to tackle will be the Olmstead Lot. Fish has interviewed three third-party developers interested in funding Student Life in these endeavors. He will be selecting a developer within the coming months with the hopes of beginning construction by next year.
“We hope to build the hotel without Johns Hopkin’s investment, using solely the third party developer. We plan to finance our street constructions with the city, the third party developer, and the University combined,” Fish said.
The majority of the SGA members showed enthusiasm for the new building plans.
Fish also discussed alternatives to the current underclassmen housing plans, however the SGA almost unanimously felt that the current housing plans are sufficient.
In addition to Fish’s presentation, the SGA also discussed the possibility of creating a new way to enter the Recreation Center and the library without a J-Card. No definitive plans were made.
Other subjects discussed at the SGA meeting included Security Week, the upcoming food truck event and future class parties.