Development is always a hot topic in North Baltimore.
In the coming year, North Baltimore still has several development questions residents are eager to see answered.
25th Street Station
The 25th Street Station, a proposed mixed-use development anchored by Walmart, continues to be a topic of controversy. The proposed development has, in some cases, pitted neighbor against neighbor because of issues such as traffic, the impact on local businesses and whether nearby communities really stand to benefit from building the development.
In October, it was announced that Lowe’s, a big box home improvement store, would no longer be part of the development. And during a debate in Charles Village, Councilman Carl Stokes said he felt the project's developers had lied to the community.
The project has been on hold in anticipation of a Court of Special Appeals review of Baltimore City Circuit Court decisions to dismiss two lawsuits challenging the project because the plaintiffs lacked standing. The Court of Special Appeals is expected to take up the lawsuits in January but there is no timetable set for it to make a decision.
33rd and St. Paul Streets Lot
A vacant lot surrounded by Johns Hopkins University's Charles Commons to the north and a stretch of condos and retail space across St. Paul Street to the east has many residents wondering what might be built there.
At one time, Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse, a construction company, intended to build a mixed-use high rise with a public garage on the site. The developer even bought several properties and demolished them to make way for the building.
But when the economy tanked, the developer sold the land to Johns Hopkins University in 2009 and the lot has sat vacant ever since.
This fall, several Baltimore residents held a picnic on the now fenced-in grass-covered lot in an attempt to advocate for the area to remain open space.
Johns Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea said there are no plans currently for the land but the university is still wieghing what may be done with it.
The Grand Rotunda
Another long dormant project is the redevelopment of the Rotunda at the cross roads of Hampden, Hoes Heights and Roland Park, as the Grand Rotunda.
In 2005, Hekemian & Co., which owns the shopping center, unveiled a proposal to rehab the Rotunda by turning it into an outdoor shopping center with restaurants, retailers and high-rise apartments on the current building’s parking lot.
But those plans have stalled and little has been said recently about the future of the project. The website for the proposed Grand Rotunda is still operational, but calls to Chris Bell, who is overseeing the project for Hekemian & Co., were not returned.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the district in which the Rotunda is located, said that she hasn’t had any conversations with Bell about the project since early in the fall, and was unaware of any immediate plans to break ground on the renovation.
Baltimore Country Club Land
Just north of the Rotunda in Roland Park, the 32-acre tract of undeveloped land owned by the Baltimore Country Club remains a concern for neighborhood residents.
Although there hasn’t been any recent proposals for development of the land since Keswick Multi-Care Center attempted to purchase 17.5 acres to develop a continuing care community, there was a brief flare up last winter when the city was considering approval of the Greater Roland Park Master Plan.
The master plan expressed the Roland Park community’s interest in retaining the land as open space. But the Baltimore Country Club objected to the plan’s wording and worried it could hinder any future plans for development on the property. Eventually the two sides hammered out language that satisfied each and the master plan was approved.
In an email from Roland Park Civic League President Phil Spevak, he reiterated that coming to a resolution regarding the Baltimore Country Club land is a priority for the neighborhood.
“We focus on raising the money to purchase the land from the Baltimore County Club and working with the Club, to preserve a beautiful space for passive and active recreation, valued by all,” Spevak wrote in the email.