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20-story residence north of Hopkins hospital topped out

The 20-story student residence tower north of the Johns Hopkins Hospital has been “topped out,” an insider’s term for the completion of the top-floor framing of a building.

Hopkins administrators and officials of East Baltimore Development Inc., the nonprofit created by the city in 2001 to oversee redevelopment of Middle East, noted the event last week with a barbecue at the site, located at 929 N. Wolfe St.

“The completion of this stage of construction marks an important milestone for both 929 and the continued revitalization of neighborhoods north of the East Baltimore campus,” Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said in a statement.

Ground was broken for the $60 million student tower in September. It replaces a block that once held rowhouses, demolished after residents were relocated be EBDI as part of the nation’s largest urban redevelopment, a $1.8 billion project to remake an 88-acre parcel of east Baltimore.

When it opens, expected to be summer 2012, the tower is expected to attract students and fellows from Hopkins. The facility will have 321 studios, one-, two- and four-bedroom luxury apartments with stainless steel kitchen appliances and granite countertops. On the ground level, 8,300 square feet of retail is expected to open.

The project is being developed by Otis Warren & Co. Inc. and the Education Realty Trust.

The housing is the first to be built at the site in more than two years. So far, 732 households have been relocated to make way for the redevelopment that has committed $564 million to date, $212.6 million of it public funds.

It cost $219 million to purchase and demolish 1,838 properties at the site, relocate the residents and rebuild some infrastructure, EBDI figures show.

The student residence tower is expected to be joined on the block by a new 1,400-space parking garage, expected to break ground this year, that will cost about $30 million.

EBDI officials had told original Middle East residents they could move back to the community if they wanted to, but so far, many have complained there is not enough new housing available to do so.

Overall, EBDI officials have said housing construction at the project has been stalled, in part because of the recession.

To date, 220 housing units have been built at the site, representing only 37 percent of the original plans for Phase I of the redevelopment.

Christopher Shea, EBDI’s CEO, was unavailable for comment.