Architect: Marks Thomas Architects
Project completion:June 2012
Number of units: 321
Unit mix:Studios and one-, two-, and four-bedrooms
Rents: $799 to $1,199
In an effort to bring modern collegiate housing to a blighted area of Baltimore, student housing developer EdR collaborated with East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI) and the city’s flagship medical institute, Johns Hopkins University.
“One of the components they felt they very much needed was graduate housing for students attending Johns Hopkins,” says Tom Trubiana, executive vice president and chief investment officer at EdR.
The Baltimore team wanted state-of-the-art, modern housing, and EdR delivered, with high-end finishes and spacious interiors. In addition, two building heights—eight and 20 stories—lend character to the skyline. The problem the firm quickly faced, however, was keeping rents low enough for graduate students.
Being located in an enterprise zone meant there should be major real estate tax relief available. But when EdR applied for it, the developer found the abatements weren’t applicable because the project was residential.
In response, EdR partnered with EBDI to create a unique, 501(c)(3) ownership structure—named the New Baltimore East Partnership—which purchased land from 4city, the master developer of the community, and deeded it to Johns Hopkins so the property could become tax-exempt. EdR then guaranteed the construction loan, which came to $42 million.
“By doing that, we maintained affordable rents for the graduate students,” Trubiana says.
With lower rents, EdR could deliver housing that suited the students’ need for privacy, keeping in mind their hectic schedules and stress levels. And by adding a green roof and using materials that were 90 percent recycled waste, the team produced diverse yet sustainable architecture.
From the outset, the development team’s goal was to get LEED Silver certification, but when the dust settled, the building had gone above and beyond that, achieving LEED Gold status with its intricate features.
“That will have positive impacts on energy costs for many, many years to come,” Trubiana says.