Student apartments, retail, restaurants planned for Charles Village

A new building with apartments, retail and restaurants could soon rise in Charles Village.

Student apartments with retail, restaurants and parking could soon rise on a vacant lot in the heart of Charles Village, developers and Johns Hopkins University officials announced Wednesday.

The 1.1-acre lot is a block from campus, and Hopkins officials believe the development will strengthen ties between the university and the Charles Village neighborhood. Hopkins President Ronald Daniels has said that bolstering neighborhoods around the university is a key goal.

The developers — Virginia Beach-based Armada Hoffler Properties Inc. and the Beatty Development Group — have planned a 12-story building with 157 student apartments and 31,500 square feet of commercial space on the lot at the southwest corner of St. Paul and East 33rd streets. The building, which will be slightly taller than the adjacent Blackstone Apartments at Charles and East 33rd streets, will wrap around a parking structure with 162 spaces for apartment tenants and the public.

The project needs approval and will be presented to the Baltimore Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel on Oct. 23, officials said. The developers hope to break ground by the spring, pending approvals.

The project will cost $65 million, according to the developers.

Hopkins has a $10 million Homewood Community Partners Initiative to invest in 10 communities near the Homewood campus, including the neighborhoods of Oakenshawe, Abell and Old Goucher.

The project, as well as some new streetscaping on North Charles Street nearby, will "not only make Charles Village even more vibrant but make the kind of connection that will be valuable for both of us," said Alan Fish, Hopkins' vice president for facilities and real estate.

"We're spending a lot of time thinking about the future of Charles Village," Fish said.

The market-rate apartments will be managed by Capstone Management, which operates other apartment-style student housing projects at colleges including the University of Maryland, College Park and Towson University. Students can sign up for the housing, which is expected to open for the fall semester, after their sophomore year.

Fish said university officials believe bolstering the surrounding communities will make the university more attractive for students, faculty and staff. He said the university also hopes to get an extension of the Charm City Circulator bus system to the area and persuade the city to make St. Paul Street a two-way road to slow traffic and make the area more walkable.

Alex Olson, associate development manager for Armada Hoffler Properties, said in an email, "We also are focused and working with the University on making 33rd Street between St. Paul and Charles Streets a more active link to the JHU campus."

The project has not yet been named but is being referred to as 3200 St. Paul.

Developers hope to lure a 10,500-square-foot pharmacy to anchor the building, as there is none within walking distance of the area. Some residents had feared the building would feature a grocery store as an anchor instead of a pharmacy, and that such a store would drive the nearby Eddie's Market of Charles Village out of business.

A Charles Village neighborhood association leader did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

While several other mixed-use buildings dot the corridor, the lot has been vacant for several years. A planned $83 million development by Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse for condominiums, stores and a garage fell through amid the nationwide economic slowdown. The lot was sold to Hopkins in 2009, and the university will maintain a ground lease on the property while it will be managed by the developer.

"Having that vacant lot there was kind of like a missing tooth in our smile for a number of years," Fish said.

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