The university has opened offices where graduate students — with supervision — provide mental health care, pastoral counseling and audiology services. After residents raised concerns about a lack of grocery stores, Loyola started a farmers' market on a university-owned lot.

Some business students are helping shops along York Road with marketing plans and facade improvements. Others are working with parents to make a recreation center that was recently threatened with closure self-sustaining.

A few miles to the south, Hopkins' plan will combine student-led projects and $10 million in grants for community projects with efforts to hire more city residents and buy more goods locally.

Local hiring and purchasing can make a marked improvement on a city's economy, said Howard, the University of Maryland researcher. Across the country, hospitals and universities spend about $1.6 trillion on goods annually — not counting construction materials or services.

Hopkins will work in 10 communities that flank the campus and stretch to Penn Station — where MICA's and the University of Baltimore's projects converge. MICA and Hopkins have also collaborated, teaming with the Maryland Film Festival to renovate the long-vacant Parkway Theater on North Avenue. Farther west on North Avenue sits MICA's recently completed Studio Center, a former factory turned into galleries and studios. Theaters, restaurants and bars that cater to youthful, artsy clients have sprouted along the block over the past decade.

Just to the south, University of Baltimore officials have spent about $250 million over the past decade constructing and renovating buildings, stretching the campus to the south and west. A new student center, an apartment tower and the university's first dorm have gone up, and a 12-story law center is to open in the spring near Penn Station.

The university has teamed with the city to get Zipcars and bike racks in the area and has taken over landscaping city-owned green spaces.

Shirley Carr, 32, a master's student in publication design, moved to Mount Vernon to be closer to UB.

"I feel safe walking around here, even at night," she said.

Business owners say they are grateful for the influx of new residents. At OK Natural Foods, a clerk said business is booming and the tiny health food store had its highest grossing day in its 34-year history last month.

"It all begins by thinking people should work and live in a space that they enjoy working and living in," said University President Robert L. Bogomolny. "We decided that the university would do things that are good for the university but also would do things that were good for the community. If Baltimore City gets better, University of Baltimore gets better. If University of Baltimore gets better, Baltimore City gets better."

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

twitter.com/juliemore

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • e:include slug="bal-news-alerts-instoryinclude"/>