breaking news! HMS project awarded to local developer

At long last we know what will be going in the empty building in our midst! That's right, friends and neighbors, the city has picked a development group for Highlandtown Middle School. Kraft's office contacted our representatives around 11 o'clock today to alert us that the official announcement would go out this afternoon, letting everyone know that Focus Development is slated to renovate the space into apartments and retail. HMS has now been sitting empty for about three years, and neighbors have struggled with the problems that always accompany vacant buildings - rats, loitering, trash, and vandalism. For a better understanding of the history of our neighborhood's trouble with the school, check out Jen's blog.

Here's what I've heard so far:
* Focus plans to begin work as early as 6 months from now, with an estimated completion date of two years
*Leasing will begin before completion, to expedite the process of getting that building filled!
* Units are predicted to attract young professionals who work in the area
* Parking will be drive-in, as opposed to the original proposition of robotic parking
* Many of the original classroom layouts will be preserved
* Historic Tax Credits will be used to help fund the building, but also stipulate that original features of the building (such as the auditorium and numerous murals) be preserved
* PPNA will have a community relations rep (Scott R) to continue the positive relationship we've had with Focus so that any neighborhood concerns during the building period are addressed
* As you know (about which I have yet to write in depth), we're planning a food co-op for our community and in casual talks with Focus learned that they would be in support of using a portion of the first-floor retail space to house it.

Over the past year, the city had three developers respond to the RFP which was quickly narrowed to two due to neighborhood involvement and a strong showing at the community/city meeting held at the Anchor Branch Enoch Pratt Library in the winter. In the end, all of the hard work, open lines of communication, and diligence on the part of individuals throughout our neighborhood and neighboring communities paid off. Special thanks should be given to Joe and Scott for their representation of Patterson Park during this process.

Stay posted for further news on this important neighborhood development!

love k


Jen said...

I love your pic! and I love all the details. you are so on top of it! The picture is ominous and includes the park, and um love mister rat. so cute! We are seriously ridiculous...! Great post girl! BREAKING NEWS INDEED!!!!!

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