Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

East Baltimore redevelopment project past its halfway mark

Scott Levitan

Scott Levitan, senior vice president and development director for Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership, said Monday that the buildout of the roughly 88-acre project is more than halfway done. (Adam Bednar)

The at times maligned redevelopment efforts surrounding the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus in east Baltimore are about 60 percent complete, according to the master developer.

Scott Levitan, senior vice president and development director for Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership, said Monday that the buildout of the roughly 88-acre project is more than halfway done.

“We’re delivering on the promises (the company made) in east Baltimore,” Levitan said during his remarks at a ribbon-cutting celebrating the opening of the project’s 1812 Ashland Ave. facility.

At full buildout the project is expected to provide 1.25 million square feet of commercial space, 1,850 housing units and 130,000 square feet of retail space. About a decade after construction started, 688,000 square feet of commercial space, 581 housing units and 38,000 square feet of retail have been completed as of this September.

Firms began moving into the $63 million laboratory/office building at 1812 Ashland Ave. in July. The building provides 166,000 square feet of office and lab space and serves as an innovation hub for life sciences companies. A Starbucks will also be located in the building’s retail space.

The building is now nearly 75 percent leased, leaving about 40,000 square feet of laboratory/office space inventory. Forest City-New East Baltimore is in the planning phase for another building “because 40,000 square feet is not a lot of inventory,” Levitan said.

The $80 million Marriott Residences Inn at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. (Adam Bednar)

The $80 million Marriott Residences Inn at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. (Adam Bednar)

Ongoing construction surrounds the building, including work on Eager Park itself, which is expected to be complete in January. Also under construction are residential projects, such as 49 townhomes on the west side of the park, and the $80 million Marriott Residences Inn at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in his remarks before the ribbon-cutting that he’s happy the Starbucks location will be what’s called an Opportunity Store, which aims to hire young people from urban communities with challenges in securing employment. But he said the long-term goal is to see children in the city become the doctors and scientists working at Johns Hopkins.

“For our community to move forward you’ve got to have jobs,” Cummings said.

The redevelopment project and the developer have had to overcome a variety of obstacles. The 2008 financial collapse hindered development on the site. There were also concerns about gentrification and the relocation of households — 731 as of September — to make way for the overhaul.

Outgoing Councilman Carl Stokes, whose district includes the EBDI area and who has previously been critical of redevelopment efforts, acknowledged his past conflicts with the developer. He also spoke of the tense relationship between Johns Hopkins and the surrounding community, a relationship that he says has improved.

“We’ve only fought and it’s been bloody,” Stokes said about his relationship with the master developer.