By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Ald. Sophia King (4th) hosted a community meeting to discuss the second phase of development for Harper Court on Wednesday, June 14, at Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.
“The goal of tonight’s meeting was to bring the community into the
process as early as possible so that the potential developers could hear from the people they are impacting,” King said, as she spoke about the importance of transparency, partnerships and accountability with the community on business projects.
King explained in an assisted presentation with the new developers, that the project will begin construction in the spring of 2018 and be led by Baltimore developers “Wexford Science and Technology LLC,” who, according to their literature, specialize in building vibrant, mixed-use communities built on foundations of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurial activity.
“One half of the retail space will be divided to help expand programs
for the Polsky Center,” said Thomas Osha, senior vice president of innovation and economic development for Wexford. “And the other half will be committed to bringing in new companies that would help bring jobs into the area.”
During its presentation, Wexford displayed 3D rendering images of their project, which included a 72,000 square foot office tower, a 90,000 square foot laboratory building and a 15,000 square feet retail space.
“We are aware of the community concerns,” Osha said. “The company has already considered the residents’ concerns of preserving the character of the neighborhood, size and density, parking and traffic flow, and communication with the leaders and stake holders of the community before building.”
Osha said the project would take about 24 months.
With the company looking to build in the spring of 2018, King mentioned during the meeting, that the project would also have a strong education component. She said it would be developed, mainly through outreach of the local schools in the community.
“With this project, we would like to reach out to our neighboring schools in the area,” King said. “We wanted to make sure that Kenwood and other schools were involved.”
King discussed an education component of the project, where students and developers would engage in exchanging ideas, creating workshops and obtaining real world experience with the company in the future.
In spite of the positive feedback from the community, some residents had concerns about communication between new developers of Hyde Park and the more established developers of the community.
“I love what the university is doing, but my concerns is are the developers sitting down with all the major players of the community?” said Stephanie Blakley, entrepreneur and Hyde Park resident. “It seems like the University is promoting big businesses on one end and developers are promoting innovation for [small] businesses on the other. It’s sending mixed signals.”
After Blakley voiced her concerns during the meeting, King addressed any concerns about the process.
“Our next step is to have developers reach out to the community,” King said. “The larger goal is to make sure that the community is a true partner in the process.”
For more information on Phase II of Harper Court meeting, please visit aldsophiaking.com.