Hopkins chief stakes his presidency on success of East Baltimore renewal

Hopkins will also become more active in neighborhoods around its Homewood campus.

ron daniels

Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels speaks about his institution’s commitment to Baltimore.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Ronald J. Daniels said his success as president of Johns Hopkins University will depend on the success of East Baltimore Development Inc., the $1.8 billion, 88-acre community revitalization project near Hopkins East Baltimore medical campus.

“If EBDI fails, then my presidency at Hopkins fails,” he told the board of the Baltimore Development Corp. yesterday.

Fortunately for his presidency, Daniels thinks EBDI will be successful. “I think this past year was a banner year to stand back and see cranes and activity happening” north of the campus.

He singled out the building of an elementary and middle school out of the current rubble of demolition near Ashland and Chester streets as a talisman of the area’s rejuvenation.

“It’s the first new school in East Baltimore in more than three decades,” he said. “The design is fabulous. It will be shovel-ready this spring and open in September 2013.”

Town-Gown Tensions

The new school and surrounding new development, he said, will end the “pernicious” perception of Hopkins as being walled off from a majority black and poor neighborhood.

“It’s not gentrification; it’s a mixed-income community,” Daniels said, adding that in 10 years he wants to see the EBDI neighborhood “cheek-by-jowl with members of the Hopkins community.”

His upbeat message is at odds with a number of local residents, some displaced by the widespread demolition, who say their interests have not been represented by EBDI, a partnership of the city, state, Forest City Enterprises, Casey Foundation, Abell Foundation, Johns Hopkins and others.

Daniels referred to the history of town-gown tension by saying, “There were occasions when we didn’t communicate well to one another. There were times we didn’t do the right things. There were times the community was too tough.”

Increasing Its Presence in North Baltimore

Noting that Hopkins is the biggest private employer in Baltimore, with $3.9 billion in economic output and 49,000 people on staff, Daniels said the institution has a “moral obligation” to the city as well as economic self-interest.

“What are our responsibilities, what are our possibilities” in collaborating with the city to create a more dynamic future, he asked before outlining some of his initiatives.

They include playing a more active role in the neighborhoods surrounding its North Baltimore Homewood campus. While some of the communities are affluent, others, like Remington south of the campus, are “challenged,” Daniels said

He said he has assigned his special advisor, Andrew B. Frank, to head the Homewood initiative. Prior to taking his position at Hopkins, Frank was Deputy Mayor for Economic Development under former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Frank is also playing a key role in a controversial plan to privately manage the revitalization of Mount Vernon Place, which faces the Hopkins-owned Peabody Institute.

Daniels said he was exploring how Hopkins could unleash its buying power to encourage its suppliers to set up manufacturing in the city and hire local residents.

Citing Hopkins’ world-renown as a life sciences research center, he said he wanted to improve its technology transfer so that basic research could yield practical devices and products that “bring jobs into the city.”

Daniels said he personally devotes one day a week to community affairs, chiefly monitoring the EBDI project. A former law professor and dean, Daniels was named Hopkins’ 14th president in 2009.

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  • Mark

    If EBDI fails, a lot more than Mr. Daniel’s presidency fails.

    • Gary

      Exactly. A whole community will have been destroyed. I really hope it succeeds. 

      • cleancut77

        A community that only offered drugs, murder and mayhem. No real loss in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    The Hopkins University president is new to town, and Andy Frank must have been highly recommended to him by some of his cronies in City Hall and at the BDC, but Daniels may not be aware that there was a period where Andy Frank was the Mayor in all but name only, running the city for the BDC, while the actual Mayor was dealing with her legal problems. It was a BDC coup. Many of the city’s development problems stem from Mr. Frank’s and Mr. Brodie’s tenure at the BDC. Putting this much trust in Andy Frank is something President Daniels may come to regret. 

    • Gregory T Barnes

      Two years later, and Andy Frank has done an outstanding job for Hopkins.   

  • Gerald Neily

    How will EBDI’s success or failure be measured? As the article suggests, its all about the perception of each stakeholder group, each judging it through their own lens. EBDI is such an OUTLIER by just about any terms that it would seem to have just close to zero real applicability to anywhere else in Baltimore. There is no reason to believe its success would allow it to “jump the tracks” north of Amtrak. Old Town, McElderry Park, Butchers and Washington Hills certainly have more growth potential, but not much related to EBDI. Baltimore has already seen what mixed income social engineering can do as an answer to gentrification, in Broadway Overlook, Heritage Crossing, and New Jonestown, and its rather underwhelming.

  • Majestic21201

    Gerald makes valid points but it sounds like he wants EBDI to fail.
    There are far more differences than similarities between EBDI and Broadway
    Overlook, Heritage Crossing and Albemarle Square. Those HOPE IV projects had no
    connection to job creation, no effort to dramatically improve education for the
    residents, and virtually none of the family support services that EBDI
    provides.  Nor did HABC treat those projects anything more than real estate
    deals.  Whether it’s because of EBDI or not, development, assisted by vacants to values, is occurring in Oliver, Milton Montford
    and McElderry Park.  Take a drive up the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Bond Street.   The $40
    million new school will accept children from the neighborhoods surrounding
    EBDI, providing parents a choice. More than 240 permanently affordable units
    have been built at EBDI. 
    The challenge now is to: 1) connect the strengths of EBDI with Butchers Hill, Patterson Park to the south and Oliver to the west; and, 2) introduce a mix of affordable
    and market rate for-sale housing.  True, Broadway East is more of a challenge.  Another key difference is how relocated residents were treated.  Residents of the public housing high-rise
    projects were given Section 8 vouchers and wished good luck.  Conversely,
    renters and homeowners forcibly relocated received five years of family
    support.  Nearly 50 renters became
    homeowners. This  brought or brings groundbreakings on parking garage, new lab building, and the first new school built in East Baltimore in two generations.    EBDI is far from perfect, but it’s too early to declare failure.  

    • Gerald Neily

      I don’t want EBDI to fail. Whatever gave you that idea? And who would accept my definition of failure anyway? Surely not anyone with EBDI. And I agree with you that the differences are greater than the similarities, which is what I meant in saying  EBDI is an “outlier”. And I even like the HOPE IV areas, just not as a way to stamp out the evil scourge (ha ha) of gentrification. (BTW I couldn’t think of the name “Albemarle Square” which is why I called it New Jonestown).

      • Gerald Neily

        OK, you want a genuine coal mine canary sign of failure for this place? It doesn’t have a real name yet! How come they keep calling it EBDI? That’s no name, it’s a chemical symbol. It’s fear that a name will infuse too much meaning. Yeah, they can’t call it “Middle East”, that’s understood. Fern would probably call it “Middle Earth”…
        So here’s a call out to the most brilliant people I know, Brew Readers! Come up with a name for this gazillion dollar neighborhood! Usha! James Hunt! Donner! Blitzen! Nixon! How far should our tongues embed in our cheeks? “Pleasant View Gardens” far, or “Long Reach”? The best I can come up with is “Hopkins Slope” based on how slippery it is. Brew can do better! 

  • Ktrueheart

    Mr. Daniels seems unaware of the ongoig gentrification, unethical medical experiments on locals and the blight resulting from displaced long time homeowners over decades … maybe Mr. Frank should fill him in.

  • Spivs

    I know that EBDI and FC and already researched potential names for the new community that will emerge inside the larger Middle East footprint.  A number of geographic and historically based name ideas were generated, but I do not know whether there has been any consensus on which direction to go with naming.

    • Gerald Neily

      I’m sure they have, Spivs. Naming and branding are a huge part of marketing which is a huge part of any billion dollar “product”. But its also obvious that it has borne no fruit whatsoever.

  • collington neighbor

    Glad to hear Hopkins is taking there responsibility toward East Baltimore seriously.  MICA has moved on Collington but they are not  treating like a commitment although they said they would.

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