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Focus groups focus on renaming Middle East

Call it the name game.

Andrew B. Frank, special advisor on economic development to Johns Hopkins University’s president, Ronald J. Daniels, and a former deputy mayor, said Thursday that six possible names for the 88 acres of the Middle East community are being tried out on focus groups by marketing experts.

“It’s ridiculous that we’re seven years into this and we don’t have a name,” Frank said during a presentation to real estate professionals at a downtown luncheon. He joked that some had suggested “NoHo,” for North Hopkins, which he said was not under consideration.

Frank said focus groups of Hopkins employees and students are being given the list of potential names, created by Carton Donofrio Partners to help choose a new identity for the community north of Johns Hopkins Hospital that has been known as Middle East since 1978.

Last fall, East Baltimore Development Inc. and master developer Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership LLC hired Carton Donofrio to rebrand the community, once scarred by blighted housing, drug dealing and violent crime.

A new identity would help usher in a new era there, they said, along with mixed-income and upscale housing.

That brought a strong rebuke from City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who grew up in Middle East. Young said renaming the community would be a “waste of money.”

Young said Thursday through a spokesman that he was unaware of the potential new names and was withholding comment.

Frank said residents of Middle East were to be included in the focus groups.

Donald Gresham, a community activist, said Thursday he was not aware of the focus groups.

“None of us have been invited to participate,” Gresham said.

Here are the proposed new names for Middle East:

• Lantern Hill

• Chase Commons

• Tailor Hill

• Beacon Park

• East Village

• Broadway Village

One comment

  1. I vote for Lead Paint Village. Set your wayback machine to 2001, when it was discovered that researchers at KKI were exposing children to lead paint contaminated housing to measure the effect of remediation methods, without adequate informed consent of the parents.