Charles Village residents told representatives from Johns Hopkins University, and its developer, they don’t want a grocery store as part of a project at the Olmsted lot because it would compete with the locally owned Eddie’s Market of Charles Village.
On Tuesday night, Johns Hopkins held its first community meeting about the proposed mixed-use development, which would be built on a vacant lot it owns at 33rd and St. Paul streets, and tried to assure residents there are no concrete plans to include a grocery store in the project.
"We don’t have a contract for any kind of development at this time," said Alan Fish, Johns Hopkins vice president for real estate and campus services.
Residents in the communities near the proposed development have been concerned since it was first reported last month the developer is interested in including a full service grocery store at the project that would compete with Eddie’s Market.
During the meeting at Sts. Philip and James Catholic Church, residents took advantage of the forum to publicly express their outrage that the university would even consider bringing in a national grocery chain.
"If you did put a grocer in the 3200 block [of St. Paul St.], what would you do with the big hole where Eddie used to be?" Beth Bullamore said. "This community wants to control its own life."
Residents also said that whatever is built on that lot, Johns Hopkins and the developers need the community’s support for the project to be successful.
"If you really want a partnership, then it takes two to tango, and not just an 800 pound gorilla jumping on a steam roller and heading down the road," Ralph Moore said.
Employees from Eddie’s Market also attended the meeting and told developers how much working in the community means to them, and their fear that a grocer at the new development would put them out of work.
"It’s a special place. It’s like being in Mayberry—you know everybody," said Ron Fader, a manager at Eddie’s.
But opposition to a proposed grocery store at the building wasn’t universal.
Melissa Bristow said she moved to the community three years ago because it was a bustling place, but has been disappointed by a lack of development in the area largely because of sluggish economy. She said that she would support anything that helped the project come to fruition—even a grocery store.
"I can appreciate and fully understand needing an anchor tenant at this property," Bristow said.
Representatives from Johns Hopkins and Armada Hoffler, the project’s developer, told residents nothing regarding tenants has been decided, but wouldn’t rule out including a grocery store.
"We’ve spoke with grocery chains. Do we have anything signed? Have we decided to do anything? No," said Tony Nero, president of development for Armada Hoffler.