Hopkins investing heavily in child care on Homewood campus

The Johns Hopkins University plans to build a $2 million temporary child care center near the Homewood campus in 2015 for staff and graduate students who are parents of young children. A permanent facility of at least $8 million is planned for 2020, possibly with a housing component, officials say.

The plans are tentative and an announcement is planned before the end of the academic year, officials said


The university would start with 10 to 14 modular, trailer-type buildings on what is now a surface parking lot for more than 200 cars, known as the Stony Run Lot, at Remington Avenue and Wyman Park Drive in the Remington neighborhood, near the southern end of the campus, said university architect James Miller.

Long-term, the university is looking at a vacant building at 115 W. University Parkway, near the northern end of the campus, that was formerly the Carnegie Institution for Science's department of embryology. The department moved to nearby San Martin Drive about eight years ago and the building has been vacant ever since, Miller said.


Hopkins would tear down that building and build a new facility, Miller said.

"That's really where we're focusing," he said.

Miller said the university is taking both short-term and long-term approaches because of uncertainty over what US Lacrosse plans to do with its current headquarters next to the old Carnegie building. US Lacrosse announced plans in 2013 to eventually move from University Parkway to 12 acres in a business park in the Sparks area in Baltimore County.

Hopkins is waiting to see what US Lacrosse does, and is considering adding rental housing to the permanent child care project, "if things work out the way we think they will," Miller said.

Officials have determined that it would be cost-prohibitive to renovate and retrofit the vacant building, which was used as a laboratory and needs maintenance, Miller said.

"You'd have to invest a ton of money to make it a compromised building," he said.

Other JHU institutions and campuses have child care. A third-party provider, Bright Horizons, runs the Johns Hopkins Child Care and Early Learning Center on South Broadway, near Hopkins Hospital. And in a partnership with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Y of Central Maryland, the Y holds open 20 slots for day care for employees at JHU's eastern campus on East 33rd Street, Miller said.

But the Homewood campus has no child-care facility or arrangements.


"We've never done it," Miller said, despite estimates that at least 500 to 600 of Homewood's 7,000 employees and graduate students are parents, based on an unscientific study of the number of employees in one of Hopkins' health care plans who had children.

Many others are of traditional child-bearing or parenting age, Miller said.

"All that suggests we've got a huge number of potential [day care] users," he said.

Hopkins began looking at adding child care after hearing complaints from faculty and graduate students that "child care is difficult in Baltimore to find," Miller said. JHU's Schools of Engineering and Arts and Sciences also said that the lack of day care was hampering their efforts to recruit faculty.

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"We were tasked with trying to solve that problem," Miller said.

The university couldn't find space on campus that would be secure with open space for a playground, as well as accessible for employees to visit their children during the day, so officials began looking off-campus.


For the short term, "we are looking at a modular solution here," similar to an approach taken by Harvard University, Miller said. He said Hopkins is looking for a local company that can build modular buildings to last five to 10 years. The university would have to make site improvements in Remington and find other parking arrangements for people who use the Stony Run Lot.

"It's probably going to be over $2 million for 10-14 trailers," Miller said. Although he did not rule out making slots available to the public, "the first slots would obviously go to our people," he said.

In the long term, "it'll be done in the right way," Miller said.

The child-care plans, along with unrelated Hopkins plans for road improvements on San Martin Drive, have been presented to the Wyman Park Community Association.

"I think both [plans] were favorably viewed," said the association's president, Kathleen Talty.