As officials celebrated the start of a long-awaited hotel near Johns Hopkins Hospital, City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said he had a Christmas wish to speed East Baltimore's much delayed redevelopment project.
"For Christmas, we'd like to have more money," he said at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday hosted by East Baltimore Development Inc., the nonprofit steward of an 88-acre zone north of Johns Hopkins Hospital where more than 700 families were relocated so the developers could remake the area with new offices and homes.
Just one-third of the planned redevelopment has been realized since EBDI was created in 2002, a pace that EBDI officials as well as master developer Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership have attributed to the difficulty of financing new projects during the recession.
"We know there's a lot of work to be done," said Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford, who sits on the board of EBDI and said the state has supported its projects, which include a new $170 million Department of Health and Mental Hygiene lab.
"We couldn't be more excited for the future of Baltimore and East Baltimore in particular," Rutherford said. "The governor and I ... are working to include some of the plans for EBDI in our efforts to support improvement of the overall environment in Baltimore and for Baltimore residents."
Wednesday's event marked the start of construction of a 194-room Marriott Residence Inn hotel, a more than $80 million project being developed by Baltimore County's Greenebaum Enterprises. The hotel at Wolfe and Madison streets is expected to open in 2017 and serve Hopkins' out-of-town patients.
The event was also for the Townes at Eager Park, a $14 million project planned to include 49 townhouses. Greenebaum is working on the project with Ryan Homes, which hopes to start pre-selling the homes in the spring for about $250,000. The site is bounded by McDonogh and Eager Streets and Rutland Avenue.
They are Greenebaum's first projects in the city.