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Search for biotech park developer begins


A formal search is being launched today for a developer for the first phase of a huge East Baltimore revitalization effort centered around a biotech park.

In a 19-page "request for qualifications," the nonprofit organization overseeing the initiative to revive the area north of the Johns Hopkins medical complex says it is seeking a developer with a "proven track record of completing comparable developments and experience with large-scale urban redevelopment projects."

The request for a developer for a 20-acre parcel - which will include life sciences buildings, a parking garage, housing units and retail space - comes two weeks after residents received their first official notices that they would be relocated to make way for the project.

A formal announcement of the search is scheduled this morning at City Hall.

Jack Shannon, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit East Baltimore Development Inc., called the search for a developer "another critical milestone" in the project to transform one of the most blighted sections of the city. "We are finally beginning the actual development process."

A pre-proposal conference has been scheduled for March 12 and the deadline for responses is April 23. A short list of developers will be selected by May, and they will be asked to provide detailed development as well as architectural and design plans.

Selection of a developer - by a committee made up of EBDI board members, "partnering organizations and key project stakeholders" - is expected in the fall.

According to the solicitation, East Baltimore Development Inc. is seeking the "maximum practical" participation of minorities and women in the project.

The request says the development parcel - bounded by Broadway on the west, Madison Street on the south, Washington Street on the east and Eager Street on the north - will include a 1,400-car parking garage capable of supporting three life sciences buildings and ground-floor retail services plus a minimum of 300 residential units.

The preference is that these units be split equally among low, moderate and market-rate housing, but the "appropriate mix" is negotiable, the document says.

East Baltimore Development Inc. intends to deliver the parcel as an "assembled and clear site" and has earmarked $23 million in public and private money for the acquisition of properties, demolition and the relocation of residents, according to the document.

An additional $23 million in public money will be needed for street, utility and open-space improvements in the first phase of the east-side revitalization, of which $8 million has been identified, the request says.

East Baltimore Development Inc. is being aided in its search for a developer by Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, a national real estate and financial consulting firm.

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