Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — On Wednesday, April 13, staff from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Department of Planning toured East Baltimore to see the progress of state investments in blight elimination, affordable housing and creation of new community open spaces.
The tour was led by members of nonprofit East Baltimore Development Inc., an organization originally created in 2004 to manage the redevelopment of 88 acres north of the Johns Hopkins medical campus. The project, one of the largest community renewal efforts in the country, is an example of how public-private partnerships can spur private sector reinvestment while also being responsive to local resident housing and employment needs.
Recent investments by the department in housing rehabilitation and new construction have created over 200 units of affordable housing. This year’s investment of just over $1 million in Strategic Demolition Funds will help EBDI clear the final parcels needed to create Eager Park, a new linear community park which spans a three block area.
The area’s master developer, Forest City, has completed two commercial office buildings including 37,000 square feet of retail space. Additional projects completed include a 321 unit graduate student housing building and a K-8 community school. A Marriott Hotel and 50 single family housing units are under construction. Overall, the project has leveraged $500 million in public and private funds with major commitments from the state, Baltimore City, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
For John Maneval, the Deputy Director of Multifamily & Business Lending Programs, the chance to go on this tour was an invaluable experience. Maneval said it had been a while since his last visit with EBDI, and was happy to see the amount of progress being made in East Baltimore.
“It was especially encouraging to see new and planned retail investment in the area,” Maneval said. “Our tour guides — Ray Skinner of EBDI and Scott Levitan of Forest City — were quite frank about the challenges associated with the overall redevelopment, and the bumps in the road they have encountered. The creation of Eager Park as a new anchor for continued development is a bold undertaking; it will be interesting to see if this significant new investment achieves its goal of jump-starting additional development.”