The director of Baltimore's Main Streets program has left his job to become a development director at Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, where he begins work today on the highly anticipated Charles Village redevelopment project.
Dominic Wiker, 31, will be part of a redevelopment team trying to generate a lively "college town" atmosphere anchored by a new bookstore on the corner of 33rd and Charles streets. Wiker, a 1993 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, said the area lacked off-campus hang-outs and things to do when he was a student.
That situation may change. Hopkins and Struever Bros. announced plans in January to build a university bookstore surrounded by residential, retail and parking areas on the 3200 and 3300 blocks of St. Paul St.
"We'll create some density and make this a vibrant place you want to visit and shop," Wiker said. "Baltimore has too few of those kind of places, something like the neighborhood water cooler."
Wiker said the 3200 block of St. Paul St. will be his focus in the most sweeping changes planned for the North Baltimore community in decades.
The native of San Antonio said he has come to feel at home in South Baltimore, where he and wife Ann live, and in North Baltimore, where he worked for the Charles Village Community Benefits District six years ago.
Wiker said his three years of city government work with the Main Streets program, coordinating revitalization strategies for seven commercial districts ranging from Hampden to Federal Hill to Pigtown, was good training for his next step.
The Main Streets initiative, which started in 2000, has attracted about $18 million in new investment, designed six streetscapes and organized matching grants for improvements to 100 store facades, he said.
All parties say that before a brick is laid or pried loose in the Charles Village project, months of meetings are expected between the university, Struever Bros. and a recently named group of community representatives.