New piece of east side opens
Officials gathered Monday to celebrate the opening of the next office building at the East Baltimore biopark near Johns Hopkins Hospital, hailing it as a sign of growing momentum in a larger redevelopment that has been in the works for more than15 years.
The roughly $65 million project at 1812 Ashland Ave. is part of a master plan being overseen by East Baltimore Development Inc., a nonprofit established by the city and state, as well as private stakeholders, to guide redevelopment of 88 acres close to the Hopkins campus.
Though slow to start, redevelopment in the EBDI footprint has started to ramp up, with work underway on residences, a park and hotel. Construction of the roughly 163,000-square-foot office and lab building, where the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital system affiliates are the primary tenants, started last year.
“We’re delivering on the promises in East Baltimore,” said Scott Levitan, a senior vice president at Forest City New East Baltimore Partnership, the master developer for the site. “In just six months, you’ll see a dramatic change.”
Noise from nearby construction sites occasionally drowned out speakers at Monday’s dedication, who alluded to the fights over the pace of the project, difficulties securing financing and concerns about displacement of an African-American neighborhood for one of the city’s wealthiest and most prestigious institutions.
About 740 families in the area were relocated to make way for the redevelopment.
“A lot of smiles up here and there should be … but getting things done with this group is a lot like sausage-making,” said Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr., who chairs the EBDI board.
The 1812 Ashland Ave. building was financed with about $33 million in federal new-markets tax credits, Levitan said. The state also contributed a $5 million lowinterest loan and a $5 million grant for infrastructure associated with the project, he said.