Yard 56, the upcoming mixed-use development in East Baltimore, is exactly the type of place that residents of Bayview and Greektown have long been clamoring for.
“This is going to completely change the landscape on this side of town,” says Bayview community leader Mike Ball. “We want to see a transformation happen in this neighborhood.”
Construction of buildings is still underway at the site located between I-95 and Eastern Avenue, and developers expect most retailers will be up and running between the end of this year and sometime early next.
Ball grew up in Bayview and has lived in the neighborhood for most of his life. He’s seen the impact that developments like Canton Crossing and McHenry Row have had for their respective areas, and believes that Yard 56—which will be phased out into two different stages including apartments, a hotel, as well as restaurants and retail—can produce a similar result.
He hopes that plans for a Brass Tap will fill what he feels is a much-needed tavern space. Among the other announced tenants are Panda Express, Chipotle, Streets Market, and an LA Fitness that serve as the facility's anchor and the first Baltimore City location of the gym chain. A Starbucks and Nektar Juice Bar also recently signed on. As of right now, no locally owned tenants have been announced, but developers expect more announcements in the coming months.
“This isn’t just like we’re building a strip center with a grocery store,” says P. David Bramble of MCB Real Estate, which took the development lead on the project and worked with Bayview and Greektown community leaders, as well as citizens to tailor it to their interests. “This is a massive investment that is going to attract people from all over the city and outside the city.”
It should not go unnoticed, Bramble says, that this is happening on 20 acres of land that is being turned into something that didn’t exist before. The development is being designed in such a way that patrons can utilize it however they see fit, and Bramble is excited to see how it fits into neighbors’ routines.
“By pushing uses together you create synergy, and start to create a sense of place,” Bramble says. “You’re not just going to a shopping center to buy some groceries and pick up your dry cleaning. Now you’re going to a place you can enjoy a restaurant or meet a friend, maybe go to a meeting and walk across the street and have a drink. You’re going someplace.”
It goes without saying, too, that Yard 56 will be a marked improvement from what it is replacing—namely a dilapidated former manufacturing plant that Bramble called a “blight” on the community.
Yard 56 will be rolled out in two stages. If all goes as planned, the development will be multi-purpose, serving the employee over at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with a place to gather, providing housing and places to gather for those who choose to live there, and a place to stay for those just passing through.
“I think you have to look at Baltimore as a city of neighborhoods, but we also have to be thinking one level above that,” Bramble said. “We’re making sure that you are really creating a place that people will want to come back to and spend some time. It will mean a lot to the city of Baltimore.”