Hopkins selects Harbor East’s Beatty to develop Charles Village site

Some action, finally, on a long-vacant lot across from Barnes & Noble. Will it get the Harbor East treatment?

charles village site

Grassy lot at the corner of St. Paul and 33rd streets where Hopkins is planning a mixed-use development.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Johns Hopkins University’s plans for a long-vacant lot in the heart of Charles Village moved ahead yesterday with the announcement of their choice to lead the mixed-use project.

Harbor East/Harbor Point developer Michael S. Beatty, paired with Virginia-based Armada Hoffler Development Co., was selected to develop the 1.1-acre site on the southwest corner of St. Paul and 33rd streets.

University officials say they will begin a dialogue with campus and community stakeholders about what shape the project should take, but it seems clear that at this point, they envision something that’s more “Harbor East” than “student union.”

“We aspire to have Charles Village be a great node of activity with restaurants and retail that draws people from all over North Baltimore – from Roland Park, Hampden, Guilford, Hampden, Waverly, Station North,” said Alan Fish, vice president of real estate and campus services.

In a phone interview with The Brew, Fish said the proposed “St. Paul Street Project in Charles Village” will definitely include garage parking but beyond that, the mix “is to be determined by what can work best in the market, what will jump-start the neighborhood.”

“A grocery, a limited-use hotel, other kinds of housing, offices” and other options are all on the table, Fish said.

Controversy over Proposed Hotel

The hotel idea is something of a flashpoint. Floated by university officials last fall, it was blasted by some students, who argued in an editorial in the Johns Hopkins News-Letter that it would “have nothing to do with students and their quality of life.”

The writer observed that “a hotel serves the purpose of housing people who don’t live in Baltimore” and argued that a supermarket or student union at the site would better promote the “thriving college town” scene that the school has always lacked.

Developer Michael Beatty. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Developer Michael Beatty. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Fish said Hopkins sees the new buildings facing Charles Street, like the Brody Learning Commons and the Mattin Center, as the focus of student life, while the St. Paul Street side is more appropriate as an interface with the surrounding community.

Enhancing the campus’ east side would benefit the university as well as its neighbors, Fish argued: “A lot of students and staff live in Charles Village.”

How Luxe?

There’s a long history of debate over how upscale the development should be, ever since Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse proposed to build “The Olmsted,” a 12-story building with $700,000-a-unit condominiums for a “College Town” redevelopment.

The Olmsted was to follow two other pieces of Struever-led revitalization in the area – Hopkins’ Charles Commons student housing (with its Barnes & Noble bookstore anchor) and Village Lofts, the condominium building with ground floor retail across St. Paul Street.

But the Olmsted lot remained empty as the economy tanked and neighbors faulted the project for aiming for too high-end a demographic, eventually leaving the corner with a gaping hole.

In 2007, Struever announced he was scaling back the concept to market rate apartments. Then in 2009, as Struever’s company collapsed amid unfinished projects and lawsuits, Hopkins purchased site for $12.5 million and banked the land for future use.

Immediate Use: Surface Parking

Surrounded by a chain link fence (breached by guerrilla picnickers in 2011 and more recently used for a university pedestrian safety campaign), the Olmsted lot will get at least one enhancement this spring.

Fish said that until the larger project moves forward, 50 metered city parking spaces will be created along Lovegrove, the alley between St. Paul and Charles.

“Last fall, the city approached us and asked if they could use part of the lot for parking,” Fish said. Meanwhile, he said, project planning will proceed, led by the Armada Hoffler team, which includes Beatty’s group and Skye Hospitality, a Maryland-based hotel company.

As president of the Harbor East Companies since 1995, Beatty spearheaded the construction of ritzy Harbor East from vacant factories and rail yards, aided by the capital and political clout of H&S Bakery magnate John Paterakis.

Recently, Beatty amicably split from Harbor East to become head of both Harbor Point Development Group (a proposed $3 billion office-residential-retail project south of Harbor East) and to form his own company, Beatty Development Group LLC.

What Passersby Said

Asked today what best would fill the current vacant space, some Hopkins seniors dwelled on the retail possibilities.

“They should do it like that, but with different stores. Like, we need a CVS!” Susan Fallon said, pointing toward the Village Lofts building on St. Paul Street, with its Verizon store, Coldstone Creamery, Chipotle, etc.

“Yeah a smoothie place, a nail salon, a Party City,” said Sarah Townsley.

Asked about whether a good use might be dormitories for juniors and seniors, who typically live off campus, the students said most classmates are turned off by the atmosphere in Hopkins dormitories and now prefer nearby houses and apartments.

“I would not want to deal with RA’s and all that,” Townsley said.

Too many restrictions on drinking and other behavior and limited food choices make dorm life unappealing, the girls (and another senior, Sal Rizzo) agreed.

“If there had been a tradition of student housing when I got here and everybody lived in them I might consider it,” Fallon said. “But pretty much by sophomore year, people are ready to live off campus.”

Gautam Sikka, a post-doctoral fellow in vascular pathology, said he thought a hotel “might provide more jobs for students” and others in the area. Kiru Wolde, also a graduate student, said the development would bring traffic congestion and pollution, but that visiting parents might like a hotel there.

Then Sikka looked over to the grassy green lot and had an idea they both seemed to like best: “A baseball field! Or cricket!”

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  • ScottHW

    Disappointing to hear students say CVS is what they most want in their community. Nothing drains wealth out of a community faster than an (inter)nationally owned chain selling products made 10,000 miles away, while the “jobs” they “create” are all minimum wage, with no opportunity for advancement or skills development.

    I would hope students at a university as respected as Hopkins would have learned more concern for their community. Perhaps they are simply thinking they will leave in 3 years, what does it matter if the neighborhood is an empty husk.

    • cbroome

      There are already two such stores, Eddies and the 24 hour convenience store, in that same area.  I don’t know how much more a CVS would offer the region, and it would probably impact the established businesses greatly. 

    • JoeK47

      Hard to blame the students for not feeling apart of a community that doesn’t want them. Relationships are a two way street. 

      • Matthew

        I would like to be friendly to the students, except over and over when you say hello they just ignore you like you are some sort of undesirable person that they should live in fear of (I hear this as well from other Baltimoreans)…I don’t get that treatment from anyone else in Baltimore whether it be Hampden, Waverly, Highlandtown, Downtown, South Baltimore, Remington, Fells Point, etc. Maybe Hopkins should stop telling their students that Baltimoreans are just out to hurt them and it’s best to just ignore them.

        • Bluejay3

          That’s interesting, As a student I make sure to not wear clothes that say Hopkins outside of Charles Village. When I did wear Hopkins attire I would get a few a nasty looks. 

  • bmorepanic

    “that draws” [wealthy, predominately white] “people from all over North Baltimore” but then throws Station North in to show the University is into hip and arty as well…

    And Kudos to the city for being so concerned about the ecology and storm water management that they would pave over green space absorbing running to create temporary parking now and using the paving to create relatively toxic construction waste in the future.

    • James Hunt

       bmorepanic wrote: “… And Kudos to the city for being so concerned about the ecology and storm
      water management that they would pave over green space absorbing run
      off to create temporary parking now and using the paving to create
      relatively toxic construction waste in the future. …”


      The soil on that “green space” is so compacted that that site can’t absorb much runoff as it is.

  • Gerald Neily

    ScottHW, so you think chain drug stores are the culprit that “drains wealth”
    out of Baltimore? And not those open air drug stores on the street corners? How do the suburbs survive with all those chains? Anyway, a drug store or a grocer would be just a small part of any development
    on this site, which would not attract a full-sized supermarket. This is not
    West Waverly. Those kinds of uses should predominately be a few blocks east of here
    near Greenmount Avenue, as is Giant and as it was in Baltimore’s heyday. And 50 parking spaces is not very many and could
    probably be fed mostly by the alley itself.

    • bmorepanic

      It’s mostly because the city is asking to do the same thing they don’t want developers doing (paving over downtown lots for paid parking until they are developed).  That its only for a year or two – until hoppies planning, permit cycle is completed – makes it even crazier as far as sustainability.

  • peter matchette

    Yeah just what we need more surface parking.

  • Matthew

    2 words… Super Walmart…It will have a grocery store, it will have a pharmacy, it will have inexpensive stuff for college apartments, it will have a McDonalds…it will have everything that is missing in CV…

    • Day_Star

      Matthew, brilliant idea, but not as brilliant as mine:  Hopkins making more overtures and building an all-in-one homeless shelter, half-way house, and drug treatment center with free shuttle service from Fallsway to Charles Village.  I’m telling you, that would buy Hopkins 7, if not 10, days of goodwill before people forget!  
      Note:  That is just my personal opinion, of course. Like the people interviewed and quoted, I’m only speaking for myself not some monolithic group of people or student body.  

    • James Hunt

       Matthew wrote:

      “2 words… Super Walmart…It will have a grocery store, it will have a
      pharmacy, it will have inexpensive stuff for college apartments, it will
      have a McDonalds…it will have everything that is missing in CV…”


      Near Gov. O’Malley’s HS alma mater, Gonzaga, at 1st and H in Washington DC, a WalMart with upscale apts on top is under construction. A Baltimore company, Modu-Tech, is doing the framing for the apartments.

      Here’s a link to a video of the place:!

  • Jed Weeks

    More surface parking in a dense city neighborhood. Just what we need!

  • glsever

    Is the 50 metered spots going to exist as parallel or reverse-angle parking along Lovegrove, or are they contemplating paving an actual parking lot?  I interpretted it as the former, which I don’t think is a big deal; but a lot of my fellow commentors seem to think it’s the latter, which I do think is a shame, albeit temporary.

    As a comparison, the 800 block of the Avenue in Hampden has about 50 reverse-angle spots, I’m not certain how that block compares to the one in question in terms of length…

    • Gerald Neily

      Glsever, I just measured the Google Earth image and the site is about 300 feet long, so at 9 feet per parking space (the standard width of a 90 degree head-in space), the alley could accommodate only about 33 spaces. With angle parking it would be fewer. The width of the property is about 180 feet, so creating another alley along the site’s south edge could comfortably yield the remaining 17 spaces. I’d imagine the ultimate site plan for the development would call for an access way there anyway. Another issue is that Lovegrove appears to be only about 15 feet wide, which is not quite enough space for most cars to swing into a head-in space, so that would call for about an additional 5 foot swath of paving. So the total new paving would be about 25×300 + 20×180 = 11,000 square feet, more or less. That is probably the most efficient way to get the 50 spaces with the least pavement – paving only the west and south edges.

      Bmorepanic, your point is well taken that the city seems to ignore its own preachy rules about paving and “sustainability”.

      Matthew and James, there’s supposed to be a WalMart coming soon just to the south at 25th and Howard Streets.

      • James Hunt

        Gerald wrote: ” … Matthew and James, there’s supposed to be a WalMart coming soon just to the south at 25th and Howard Streets.”


        Correct. I threw that video out there because (a) the still-under-construction DC WalMart project is–contrary to my expectations–pretty nice looking (b) to Matthew’s point, a large-footprint, low price retailer would work well in that area where everyone isn’t as wealthy as some commenters think and (c) the project has a tangible connection to factory jobs in Baltimore.

      • Matthew

        Why not have more than one Walmart…Each of these neighborhoods (CV, Remington, Hampden) has a population similar to a suburban town…and they have a Walmart in towns that are right next to each other…I would support a Walmart in the Rotunda as well…

        • p johnson

          That won’t happen because Wal-Marts draw from a MUCH larger population base than any one of those neighborhoods has. 

  • Aaron

    I hope whatever they do there fits in with the style of the neighborhood. CV has a great vibe and I’m worried that might be tarnished with more chain stores moving in (if that in fact happens).

  • cbroome

    There used to be a lot more long term residents living in that area of Charles Village before Johns Hopkins began buying the apartment complexes in the region.  If anything, the area needs more people living year-round in that section of town.  Having a neighborhood that’s only populated for 2/3rds of the year puts a significant strain on the local businesses.  Talking with some of the owners, they need to pay employees out of pocket during the lean months. This is not a problem found in nearby Hampden which can survive on locals.

    I find it a bit off-putting that the University should further lurch into the residential areas and that the heart of Charles Village will further cater just to the University’s interests.

    • a_12

      Actually, considering Hopkins has a large grad student population as well as classes offered year round, the population is pretty healthy even in the summer. Also, if you read the article, Hopkins already owns that lot so right now it’s just a grassy square filled with litter. What’s wrong with Hopkins building there? It’s not as if they’re trying to take land away from existing businesses and local residents.

      • cbroome

        > the population is pretty healthy even in the summer.

        I have to disagree.  Businesses suffer greatly during the summer months.  The owner of the Quiznos told me he operated at a net loss during the semester breaks and paid employees out of his own pockets.  Other stores tell the same story. It’s hard to attract businesses if the community can’t sustain them year round.

        I had friends who were kicked out the Blackstone Apartments when Hopkins deigned to use it solely as student lodging, now four months of the year its barely occupied. How much more business could the area get if it still housed long term residents?

        > What’s wrong with Hopkins building there

        Nothing. More power to them. it’s long overdue. I just hope whatever they make serves the whole community rather than just the university.

        • elkrbvweujn

          If you hate the effects of living next to a university( Can’t get much closer than the Blackstone)  then don’t live next to a university. No one is forcing you to live in Charles Village and no one is forcing people to open business targeted at college students( Quiznos). 
          Honesty what are these terrible problems facing Charles village. Theres housing, decent parking, and its a pretty safe neighborhood. Is the only complaint that there isn’t a lot of food option because this article seem to say theres a good chance the bottom floor of this new building will have restaurants. Do you prefer the hotel idea that was that the students criticized?

          You seem to be very angry that a lot of students only live here from fall to spring, but short of getting rid of the school what is your fix to this problem. Force Hopkins to a smaller school? Force students to be around in the summer? 

          >How much more business could the area get if it still housed long term residents?

          If instead of Hopkins being there Guilford just continued south how much less businesses would the area have? 

  • AndySam

    I agree with you Joek47. Indeed, I find that the attitude of locals (even local politicians) towards students and universities in Baltimore very strange. These colleges/universities (university hospitals) are the only institutions whose jobs are not likely to get outsourced. They are what keep Baltimore from becoming Detroit. And, yet all I here is complaints from the locals. What do you locals want? Manufacturing jobs to return to the city, with all its pollution and waste? You locals seem to want to have your cake and eat it too? 

    I’ve lived in rust belt cities like Grand Rapids, that lost their manufacturing base are trying to attract universities and hospitals to generate employment. Baltimore already has this! Yet, all I hear from the locals is how JHU is creating problems, and NIMBY’s in Roland Park who do not want Loyola to expand and have forced it into its current boundaries. What do these folks to do? Stifle the growth of these institutions so they move or die out? Then what will be left for you all here – NOTHING, NOTHING!

    Agreed, JHU has done some terrible things in the past. But, so has every institution. There are cities like Boston where the locals and the institutions thrive off of each other. And, Baltimore needs to learn to follow their lead.

    • Joe Six-Pac

      @AndySam:twitter : As both a city resident and an alum, I see it from both sides. First off, the students who go to JHU are almost 100% from entitled suburbs who, like me, were probably not exposed to a lot of the realities of urban living. Your naivety most likely comes off as condescending to locals, as though you are running a sociology project about how those poorer, lower-income people somehow squeak by without two professional working parents. The attitude a large number of the students have of “I’m providing jobs, if it weren’t for me you would have NOTHING” – as though the residents of Baltimore are lining up to get jobs cleaning your toilets – doesn’t help.

      From the other side of the aisle, as a resident I do hear a little hate on the students for their privileged upbringing and their perceived condescending attitude towards city people. I was young, privileged, and naive once as well and was seriously confused when I moved into the city and encountered people who couldn’t just ask their family for money they needed if they fell on hard times. I didn’t feel that I was better, I just had a tough time understanding that my upbringing was not the norm. After I got to know the people in the city better I realized that maybe the communities here, while often times less financially secure, are a little friendlier and the people more personable than the gated suburban communities many of Hopkin’s students are used to, where the only item of importance was your financial status.

      Long story short, the kids at the school are just that – kids. I feel Baltimore residents forget that sometimes and don’t realize that their thoughts and actions are based on a narrow sample set of experience they received in a very controlled environment. As for the kids, all you need is a little positive experience with the locals, such as joining the BSSC or volunteering at a local non-profit. I never thought I’d still be in Baltimore all these years later, but that just shows you how much you’re going to change over the years.

    • James Hunt

       AndySam wrote:

      Baltimore already has this! Yet, all I hear from the locals is how JHU
      is creating problems, and NIMBY’s in Roland Park who do not want Loyola
      to expand and have forced it into its current boundaries. What do these
      folks to do? Stifle the growth of these institutions so they move or die
      out? Then what will be left for you all here – NOTHING, NOTHING!


      A good side effect of holding the line on Loyola’s westward growth into Roland Park is that they’ve headed east and renovated a seriously deteriorated apartment building and townhouse complex just off York Road, along with an abandoned car dealership and an office building.

  • discer

    This guy looks like a tin man.

  • patrickmc

    The short-term parking spots are intended to address the loss of parking during the reconstruction of Charles Street. The potential uses and footprint for that site are limited by the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development legislation ( passed in 2003. There will be a lot of community oversight of the project’s design and uses as it moves forward by the PUD Design Review Committee and the neighborhoods represented on that committee. I’m excited to see something move forward on that location and will work for uses that are compatible with the neighborhoods and existing businesses.

  • AndySam

    @google-315a6990c15d8cc9c99e895334b6bbc2:disqus But, you missed my point. Note that I directed my criticisms to the residents of Roland Park and Charles Village not Waverly. And, this happens all around the city: take Bolton Hill: its residents love being close to Mt. Vernon, with all its restaurants and galleries. And, yet every year (I know this from a friend who is on the Bolton Hill neighborhood assoc.), the residents complain about Artscapte and about the parking problems that MICA creates, and so on. So they want to liven in a fun “Parisian style”, artsy, urban neighborhood, but don’t want the students and the associated “problems”.

     My claim that Baltimore would have NOTHING if these institutions were gone is based simply on my research of post-industrial North American cities. Accusing people of condescension won’t solve Baltimore’s problems — only reality and facts will. And, a reality check is what the locals need.

    As a side note, I was raised neither wealthy, nor on two incomes, nor in the burbs (and have no ties to Hopkins).

    • KyleJeffries

      “As a side note, I was raised neither wealthy, nor on two incomes, nor in the burbs (and have no ties to Hopkins).” 
      So not only do you think you’re better than us you also think were gullible.

      What good do the rich teenagers getting drunk actually bring to the neighborhood? Most locals aren’t looking to get jobs cleaning up puke.

  • MC2012

    This is an excellent conversation, there are tremendous potential benefits that come with this project, from any number of perspectives.  Echoing Patrick’s comments, there has been, and will continue to be robust community conversation about what is built.  Not just to appease us masses, but a legal binding process as part of the PUD under which the project will be approved.  There is a committee, with diverse membership that will review the project, and plenty of opportunity for public feedback. 
    Over the last year, before selecting a developer, JHU continued the dialog with a series of community ‘focus groups’ to help determine the type of retail/ restaurants people hoped to see on the lower floors (a pharmacy came up frequently).  The new development team has already begun reaching out to make introductions in the community, so many of us will be meeting with them individually in the coming weeks.  Bottom line, I’m optimistic, that this is a tremendous step toward a more vibrant, attractive and sustainable city neighborhood.
    Regarding student-community relations, our neighborhood adjoins Hopkins and we work actively with the university to manage this.  It’s an ongoing thing, frustrating at times, but it can work.  See the cover story of this week’s messenger about the successful student-community clean-up last weekend:,0,2625476.story

    • Gerald Neily

      “A pharmacy”, MC2012? How about a haberdashery or a blacksmith? Please come back to the 21st century.

    • davethesuave

      Your first paragraph:  ”robust community conversation”;  ”legal binding process”;  ”diverse membership”;  ”public feedback”,
      is in conflict with your second:  ”JHU…selected a developer”;  ”to help determine”;  ”hoped to see”;  ”meeting with them individually”.

      It has been observed that by the time a stock market trend is apparent to the average investor, the profits have already been realized by a select few.  I hate to tell you, MC2012, but the fix is already in.  The developers will build what they want to build, with their eyes Always on the Prize.  And it will have almost nothing to do with community input, or “appeasement”, and everything to do with maximizing profit.  That’s the entire point.

  • Faith T

    I never realized until now how much the Baltimore community hates Hopkins, and I hope the number of you who feel this way should take a step back before stereotyping around 5,000 students.  Yes, there are rich, entitled, and arrogant students, who drink and party noisily on the weekends, but there are also students from backgrounds worse than the average Baltimore resident, and students who work with/for homeless shelters or mentor Baltimore city children or work in a number of other social welfare organizations for the benefit of the community.  There are terrible people here, but there are also fantastic people here.  There are people who have never understood the humbleness of poverty, and there are people here who have never experienced the luxury of not worrying about money constantly.

    • Jerry8

      Just because you let a few poor people in were suppose to act like the rest of you aren’t a mix of overprivileged white kids and asians who aren’t speak English?
      Hopkins symbolizes everything wrong with America. Children who think too highly of themselves and want everything handed to them and foreigners coming here to take our wealth back to their country.

  • Matthew

    You have to admit that it’s pretty unfair that JHU has taken advantage of the property and business tax situation. It’s kind of funny that their organization has been able to build billion dollar buildings without paying any property taxes while no one else wants to renovate due to an increasing their tax burden. These building, as nice as they will be, if they are owned by the univerisity, their impact on the community will be paid for on the shoulders of other landowners in Baltimore. The taxes are very high in this town thanks-in-part by organizations like JHU which pay no property taxes while residents and for-profits with much less cash flow have to pay for much more than their fair share.

    • Jeff Tate

      You make it seem like they’re stealing city money. Hopkins buildings are paid for by Hopkins alumni and not the city. Taxes are high because the city needs to have its revenue match its expenditures (Unless were hoping for a bailout from Annapolis ). Hopkins isn’t driving expenditures up and being the largest employeer in both the city and state Hopkins has fairly large positive effect on the city’s revenue.

      Do you want to chase all non-profits and colleges out of town?

  • cwals99

    I would suggest that people who know the development is unjust look at how it is illegal and follow up on that. I am looking to go to court over the fact that none of these business tax deals and grants received for these Enterprise Zones have met their contractual agreements and are therefor not valid.  I want to bring the money back for the development purposes for which these blighted community awards were meant….to developed underserved communities for the underserved.

    We need to demand that Public Justice/Civil Justice and all of these citizen advocate legal reps do their jobs…..and take what amounts to fraud to court.  We can not only bring the ill-gotten funding back to the communities needing it but we can make nul and void those tax breaks that mortgage revenue for decades…..because they are not meeting their contract agreements.

    So, let’s take action and move forward from recognizing these problems.  Spring is almost here and it is a good time to SPRING INTO POLITICAL ACTION!!!!!

  • cwals99

    As an aside to this development issue, for those supporting small business in this national chain development, we in Charles Village support Eddie’s grocery and are telling Johns Hopkins and this development team we would like to see an Entertainment venue in this Charles Village space and not yet another food venue.  Where the Hopkins campus has activities for the students, there are no real places to go for entertainment.  I’m sure even the Hopkins students would enjoy something other than theater and museums.So take the time to write these developers in support of small businesses like Eddie’ s Market by saying we do not need more food venues in this area!!!

    • elkrbvweujn

      Only mentioned food because numerous residents have voiced dissatisfied to me about the amount of places in the area and have blamed Hopkins for that. So I guess that issue is a lose/lose situation for them then.

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