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Morgan State confirms Northwood Plaza overhaul after slow rollout

Students at Morgan State University. (File Photo)

Students at Morgan State University. (File Photo)

 

Morgan State University’s long-gestating plan to redevelop Northwood Plaza shopping center is official.

The university confirmed plans to raze the struggling strip mall with a $50 million overhaul featuring a Barnes & Noble, Starbucks and offices for the school’s police and public safety employees on Wednesday evening. Details of the plan first were reported in February when the school sought tax breaks for the development from the Baltimore City Council.

Dr. David Wilson, President of Morgan State University. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz).

Dr. David Wilson, President of Morgan State University. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz).

“Morgan State University is proud to serve as an anchor institution in the city of Baltimore and is strongly committed to the surrounding community. The redevelopment of Northwood Plaza expands upon that commitment, creating a vital retail center that fulfills a number of needs for the university and the residents of northeast Baltimore,” university President David Wilson said in an statement.

Maryland’s Board of Public Works endorsed leases moving the university’s current Barnes & Noble location and the public safety facility on Aug. 22. Wilson, a week later, published a message on Twitter the school reached a deal with developers to raze, and overhaul Northwood Plaza.

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Days after Wilson’s tweet, the university issued a statement saying redeveloping the center near its northeast Baltimore campus showed commitment to improving surrounding neighborhoods.

“The many years of frustration on the part of so many in Baltimore at seeing this shopping center deteriorate into being a negative presence in our community are finally coming to an end and we are pleased with the prospect of what the future brings. More details regarding this project are forthcoming,” the university wrote in a message to news media last week.

MLR Partners and MCB Real Estate, in partnership with Northwood Plaza’s current owners, will redevelop the site. Those firms previously partnered on projects, such as the overhaul of the vacant Madison Park North complex — a/k/a the “Murder Mall.” MCB Real Estate is also overhauling the former Pemco International Corp. site in East Baltimore into a mixed-use Yard 56 development anchored by L.A. Fitness and Streets Market and Café’s second location.

The Northwood Plaza transformation is slated to happen in two phases. University officials anticipate the project being completed by the fall of 2020.

The first phase of construction will include 70,000 square feet of retail that will include a Barnes & Noble store with a Starbucks. It will also include 20,000 square feet for the university’s Office of Police & Public Safety.

A second phase involves 35,000 square feet of retail with a grocery store. The school has not yet said what grocery store brand will lease that space.

Northwood Plaza has been in decline for decades. Former Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. was shot and killed at the site in 2008 during a robbery of New Haven Lounge jazz club. Jerome Williams and Charles McGaney, 17 and 22 respectively at the time of their trial, were sentenced to life in prison for the killing

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