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UniverCity Partnership Celebration
Nov. 4, 2016
Howard Street Dog Park
Thanks to everyone for coming out tonight. It’s great to be here with my friends and partners—Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Kirby Fowler, and Bill Cole.
Six years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of returning to Baltimore after some time away. It was just a few months after Mayor Rawlings-Blake took office. And I don’t know if we fully realized it then, but it was definitely the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
With the mayor’s leadership, she and I inaugurated the UniverCity Partnership that same year—both of us committed to the vision of a vibrant, diverse district filled with art, entertainment, education, and business, and populated by workers, visitors, and residents alike.
I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last half-dozen years. And I’m so proud of what UMB has contributed to those successes.
There are certainly many big projects we’ve begun or completed since the partnership began. You can see our new Health Sciences Facility rising up on our campus—a 10-story, state-of-the-art research space we’ll open next year. Our BioPark continues to grow just across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. We cut the ribbon on the park’s Maryland Proton Treatment Center this summer, and we’re looking forward to an official ground-breaking for our third commercial lab and office building.
Crossing MLK was a big deal for us—and for our neighbors. We wanted to connect West Baltimore not only to the University, but to this vibrant Westside district we’re creating right here. We wanted to knit this community together, so that our assets are shared—and our benefit is broadened.
That’s the point of new campus signage we’re installing this spring. The signs will help people find their way around our campus and around the hospital properties, but also around the neighborhoods where UMB is anchored—so that there’s a sense of connection with the people we serve.
And we’re going beyond our campus borders to remake and rejuvenate the Westside. We’re improving properties on Lexington Street and Greene Street—renovating façades, laying new sidewalks, removing vacant and blighted buildings. I thank Kirby and the Downtown Partnership for helping us secure grants to get this work underway.
We’re redeveloping the former Drovers Bank building on North Eutaw and the former Sons of Italy building on Fayette. The combined project will yield about 220 market-rate apartments, and parking, and retail space. It’s a $40 million project and should begin early next year.
But of course it’s not buildings alone that make a community. It’s a sense of personal safety. It’s a feeling of creative expression. It’s a commitment to the values you share with your neighbors.
So we’ve expanded our public safety patrols up to Lexington Market. Working with the Baltimore City Police, the MTA, and the market’s security personnel, we’ve developed a plan to make the market corridor a safe and inviting space. We’re installing a major public art sculpture at our Health Sciences Facility—and we’re inviting the community to help select the artist and sculpture that will grace the grounds of the building next fall.
With the hospital, we’ve installed a Bike Share station on Baltimore Street in what we think is a “win” for health, for sustainability, and for our neighbors, our students and staff—who all need an affordable and convenient way to get around the city.
UMB’s commitment to the Westside won’t expire. We’ve been here for 210 years, and—believe me—we’re here for good. So I thank everyone who’s helping us improve our home and the community we love so much.