Board of Public Works Lease Approvals Clear Path for Start of ‘Northwood Commons’ Project
Morgan State University (MSU) President David Wilson announced today that the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) recently approved leases related to the relocation of the university’s Barnes & Noble-operated bookstore and the construction of an MSU public safety facility at the site of the Northwood Plaza Shopping Center. Coinciding with years of planning and discussion with stakeholder groups, the BPW approvals clear the path to begin the construction of Northwood Commons, a $50-million redevelopment project located adjacent to Morgan’s West Campus.
Baltimore-based MLR Partners and MCB Real Estate, in conjunction with Northwood Plaza’s current owners, will execute the much-anticipated project in two phases. The first phase will involve 70,000 square feet of retail space, including a Barnes & Noble college bookstore with a Starbucks, and 20,000 square feet of office space housing the University’s Office of Police & Public Safety, across from the bookstore. The project’s second phase will entail the construction of up to 35,000 square feet of retail space, most of which will be occupied by a grocery store, a welcome addition to the campus and surrounding communities. The project is slated to begin this fall with construction to be completed in 2020, the same year the university’s new student services building is scheduled to open on the main campus.
“Morgan State University is proud to serve as an anchor institution in the city of Baltimore and is strongly committed to the surrounding community. The redevelopment of Northwood Plaza expands upon that commitment, creating a vital retail center that fulfills a number of needs for the university and the residents of northeast Baltimore,” said President Wilson. “This project is a great start to revitalizing the area and offers advancements that are widely praised. We are pleased with the prospect for the future.”
Many state and local officials have worked tirelessly to advance the project. Among them are Maryland State Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, Maryland State Delegate Maggie McIntosh, members of the Hillen Road Improvement, Original Northwood and New Northwood Community Associations, as well as Morgan’s Board of Regents and other MSU contributors.
“This project represents a major coalition of many different stakeholders, including the northeast Baltimore community, the university, the state of Maryland and the city. And each of these different stakeholders has a tremendous vested interest in its success,” said Mark L. Renbaum, managing partner of MLR Partners. “Our hope is that the shopping center provides another draw for prospective Morgan students, as well as shopping, eating and health care amenities for nearby residents.”
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the ground lease agreement between the Northwood Plaza Shopping Center developer and Morgan on Aug. 22, marking the future site of the MSU public safety building. Also in August, BPW approved the management and operation of the Morgan bookstore by Barnes and Noble College Booksellers, LLC at the new site. The lease between the developer and Morgan regarding the relocation of the co-branded Barnes and Noble/Morgan bookstore to Northwood Plaza Shopping Center was approved by BPW months earlier.
With this redevelopment project, Morgan’s involvement furthers its impact as an economic engine in the city of Baltimore. Recently, the university released the results of a comprehensive study detailing a $574 million impact within Baltimore and a nearly $1-billion impact on the state as a whole. The university’s impact also includes the support of nearly 4,000 jobs located within the City.
The history of Northwood Plaza has been intertwined with that of the university for better or worse. More than 415 students, most of them from Morgan, were arrested during their successful, peaceful protest to desegregate the plaza’s Northwood Theatre in 1963. The desegregation battle at Northwood Plaza began in the early 1950s, but by then, hundreds of Morgan students had engaged in the cause of equal rights with sit-ins and other protests across Maryland for more than a decade. Morgan’s expanded presence in Northwood brings to a positive conclusion what was started so many decades ago. The current owners of Northwood Plaza acquired the shopping center in the 1970s, and are part of the driving force to redevelop the shopping center.
Northwood Commons is located at 1500 Havenwood Road, Baltimore, Maryland.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution offering more than 100 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
Larry Jones, University PR