Hopkins wants pharmacy to anchor development on St. Paul Street

Johns Hopkins University and its development team are considering anchoring a vacant lot in the 3200 block of St. Paul Street with a drug store, not a grocery store, as area residents feared earlier this year. (Chaki Kawajiri/The Baltimore Sun / May 21, 2007)

The developer of a planned mixed-use development in Charles Village on land owned by Johns Hopkins University is considering anchoring the project with a pharmacy, not a grocery store, as many area residents had feared.

"The anchor tenant/retailer will likely be a 10,000-12,000-square-foot pharmacy, yet to be determined," Jennifer Mielke, director of the university's Office of Community Affairs, informed the Charles Village Civic Association in an email Oct. 23.

Also being considered are market rate rental apartments aimed at students, but not dormitories, Mielke said.

"The housing component of the project has slightly shifted toward exploring market rate rental (apartments) for students, which (would) include 3-4-bedroom suites," Mielke said in her email. "Consultants have been hired to help the developer and Hopkins better understand the market demand for such units."

She said focus group meetings would be held with Hopkins students and staff in mid-November to gauge the viability of such apartments and what amenities would make them marketable.

In February, Hopkins chose the team of Armada Hoffler, Beatty Development and Skye Hospitality to lease the land from the university and develop a 1.1 acre property at 3200 St. Paul St., with a completion date in 2016. The vacant lot, located within walking distance of Hopkins' Homewood campus, used to be owned by Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, which planned to develop it as The Olmsted, an $83 million mixed-use project.  A bad economy derailed those plans and Struever sold the land to Hopkins in 2009.

Hopkins and the developers caused a stir in the comnmunity this spring by signalling they were exploring a grocery store as the lead tenant of the development. Many residents, merchants, community leaders and local elected officials complained that such a store would be too close to the longtime, popular Eddie's Market of Charles Village two blocks away, and that the competion could drive Eddie's out of business.

Hopkins later backed away from a grocery store as the lead tenant, but had not said until now what type of business they wanted as an anchor instead.

Eddie's owner Jerry Gordon, who had joined the lobbying effort at public meetings, said he would welcomed the new plans —  especially for a pharmacy.

"That was our first suggestion, that what the neighborhood really needs is a pharmacy," Gordon said Oct. 24. He said the nearest drug stores within walking distance of Eddie's are a Rite Aid in the 3100 block of Greenmount Avenue and a CVS at 25th and North Charles streets.

As for student housing, "Any housing, all housing is great," Gordon said.

Gordon said he was worried earlier this year that competition might kill his store, but that since talk of a grocery store has stopped, he has put in a new produce department and new floors in Eddie's.

"We reinvested for the future," he said. "Before, I had that weight hanging over my head and I didn't know if I was going to be here."

Developers met Oct. 21 with the North Charles Village PUD Design Review Committee, a city-required advisory committee of community leaders, to discuss the project, Mielke said.

The project "dovetails" with Hopkins' ongoing, $10 million Homewood Community Partners Initiative to nurture 10 communities near the Homewood campus, Mielke said. The neighborhoods include Oakenshawe, Abell and Old Goucher.

Baltimore City is currently using the vacant lot as a temporary metered parking lot to alleviate a parking shortage caused by the ongoing Charles Street Reconstruction project, Mielke said.