University officials announced in a schoolwide email on Monday that construction will begin this week on the two blocks of St. Paul Street between 31st and 33rd Street. They expect that the construction, referred to as the Charles Village Streetscape project, will be completed by December 2019.
The project will include renovations such as improved lighting and pavements, new benches and a median to separate traffic into two lanes.
Johns Hopkins Facilities & Real Estate (JHFRE) announced the project the week of construction. According to Vice President for Facilities & Real Estate Robert McLean, this was meant to inform the Hopkins and Charles Village communities of the upcoming impact to pedestrian and traffic flow.
He explained in an email to The News-Letter that for the past five years, the University has been working extensively with the Charles Village Civic Association (CVCA), the Charles Village Business Association (CVBA) and the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development Design Review Committee.
McLean added that administrators met with local residents and retailers to collaborate on a plan for the Streetscape project and reduce the impact that construction would have on local businesses.
“This project is part of a long-term effort by the University and community, city and private partners to improve the safety, security and amenities in Charles Village for students, community residents and local retailers,” he wrote.
CVCA representative John Spurrier appreciated that the series of streetscape improvement meetings between CVCA, local residents and University officials produced concrete results.
“While the construction and parking restrictions create a minor inconvenience, it is good to see ef forts that began with the establishment of the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development over two decades ago coming to fruition,” Spurrier wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Project planners stated that they aim to make the neighborhood from 31st to 33rd St. Paul Street more accessible to pedestrians.
The JHFRE website adds that the construction will also create a gateway from Charles Street to St. Paul Street to better connect the Homewood Campus to the businesses on St. Paul.
“We look forward to a more pedestrian friendly and beautified retail district,” McLean wrote. “The University, through institutional sources, is contributing significantly to this project in collaboration with its real estate development partner in Nine East 33rd.”
The JHFRE website also states that all sidewalks within the area of construction will be open for pedestrians and all businesses will remain accessible. The construction will, however, impact parking and traffic flow.
McLean expanded on the timeline for the project.
“We anticipate the construction to continue from now through December of this year with final... landscaping to complete spring 2020,” he wrote. “Exterior work can always be impacted by weather and unforeseen existing conditions; our schedule should accommodate most delays, and we’ll be updating the project schedule throughout the year.”
He further described some of the major street improvements and changes that the project will bring to the area.
“We are especially interested in improving the crosswalks, medians, traffic controls, and lighting to enhance pedestrian safety,” he wrote.
Junior Rachel Silverman lives in Nine East 33rd, an apartment on 33rd Street in close proximity to the construction. The apartment building’s management sent residents an email notifying them that heavy machinery used during construction could generate noise at any time between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Silverman said that despite the expected noise, she is excited about the new St. Paul Street.
“The project looks like it will create positive changes to St. Paul that I am pleased about. I just hope during the construction, it doesn’t get too loud,” she said.
In two weeks, bus stops will also be temporarily moved for the duration of the construction period. The Charm City Circulator stop currently located in front of CVS on St. Paul Street will move to its previous location on 33rd street.
The MTA stop on St. Paul will move across the street.