A local marketing firm is asking certain employees of the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine if they would be willing to put down roots in the 88-acre area known as Middle East.
The survey, designed by Carton Donofrio Partners, asks the employees what kind of housing they might prefer — loft, condo, traditional or contemporary row house; how much they would be willing to spend on that new dwelling — between $191,000 and $390,000 on some options — and which lifestyle perks they might desire — organic grocery, fitness center and community arts center.
It offers an idyllic snapshot of a new urban community with “the best public education,” a “stress-free” walking commute to Hopkins’ East Baltimore campus, “an expansive destination park” and “exciting retail, dining and nightlife experiences.”
It even offers potential names for the new “urban community” being constructed by the nonprofit East Baltimore Development Inc. as part of a $1.8 billion redevelopment project north of Johns Hopkins Hospital. The survey asks participants to choose from a list of names that includes “Lantern Hill,” “Hawthorne” and “East Village.”
“Welcome to [New Development in East Baltimore],” the survey begins, describing the area as “an urban community where total wellness is a way of life. Here, achieving a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle is as simple as walking out your front door:
-Stroll, jog, bike, swim, and more at the expansive community park and fitness center.
-Stock up on fresh, locally-sourced food at the organic grocer or community farmers’ market.
-Share in the community’s thriving arts programs by taking classes at nearby MICA and The Peabody Preparatory.
-Join neighbors and coworkers who share a commitment to academic excellence by sending your children to Baltimore City’s first partnership school with The Johns Hopkins University.
-Walk to work or ride stress-free on the free and frequent Circulator for easy access to Fells Point, Harbor East, downtown, and Penn Station.
-Enjoy the best in sustainable living — including LEED-certified new construction, energy efficient green housing, walkable communities and neighborhood gardens.”
The survey is one of several planned for the redevelopment of Middle East, said Christopher Shea, CEO of EBDI, on Monday.
It was sent via e-mail last week by Andrew B. Frank, special assistant to Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels on economic development initiatives. It offers 10 Amazon gift cards worth $100 each to survey participants through a random drawing and a donation of $300 to Habitat for Humanity as a goodwill gesture.
“We want to know who is most likely to buy into the EBDI area,” Frank said last week. “What amenities they want, what housing types would be most appealing to buyers and the ‘strike’ price of what price range of housing units might be.”
Dennis O’Shea, spokesman for Hopkins, said in an e-mail Monday that Frank had sent the survey e-mail to Hopkins employees in the School of Nursing and Bloomberg School of Public Health and other employees at Hopkins Hospital at EBDI’s request. O’Shea said he did not know exactly how many employees that included.
Frank said the survey will allow Hopkins and EBDI officials “to be more strategic in intelligence” about future housing at the 88-acre site, where more than 700 households were relocated and 669 homes razed over the past decade to make way for what was once deemed a world-class biotech park residential community.
The Daily Record reported last month that after more than $564 million in investment, development plans are far behind schedule.
The new housing options at the site, planned to be mixed-income, were promised first to former residents who have been relocated, many of whom live at or below the poverty level.
The survey shows new houses could cost up to $400,000 per unit, depending on amenities — such as extra security, parking, finished basements, roof terraces and even gourmet kitchens with high-end appliances — selected by potential buyers.
For example, the survey has a self-calculator that adds $15,000 to the price of a $130,000 single, detached three-bedroom house for a finished basement and $25,000 for parking in a “limited access, secure garage.” A small front yard would add $10,000 to the cost of the house.
The survey promotes existence of a new “high performing” K-8 public school at the site, expected to cost $50 million and be operated under a partnership between Hopkins and Baltimore City Public Schools. It also promotes “enhanced private security” at the site, which has long been plagued by drug dealing, violent crime and gang activity.
Area residents were also to be included in the survey, according to Frank.
But Donald Gresham, a resident who opted to remain in the Middle East community, said he had not received the survey and was dismayed to learn of the potential housing prices, which he fears could raise property values and property taxes in the new community.
“Who in the world can afford that?” Gresham asked. “It’s not going to work for us at all.”
Glenn Ross, a resident and community activist in nearby McElderry Park, said Monday he also was unaware of the survey.
“I haven’t received a copy, nor has anyone here come to me. Normally, people come to me and ask about things like this from around the neighborhood,” Ross said. “This is all news to me.”
Raymond A. Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and an advocate for former residents in Middle East, said he had not heard of the survey.
“What they did was get rid of the residents and now they are offering housing to Hopkins employees in the area,” Winbush said.
Shea said in an e-mail Monday that intended survey participants, including Hopkins students and employees, current and former East Baltimore residents and city residents, “comprise very important demand-side segments” at the EBDI project.
Cleve Corlett, a researcher conducting the study for Carton Donofrio, did not respond to an e-mail or call to discuss the survey.