An East Baltimore warehouse, once the home of a printing company that produced maps for National Geographic, will undergo a $26 million renovation.
The aged 85,000-square-foot A. Hoen & Co. complex has seen better days, but Karen D. Stokes hopes to transform it into a state-of-the-art center for job training community events, college and entrepreneur courses.
Strong City Baltimore, formerly known as the Greater Homewood Community Corp., will oversee the rehabilitation project. The developers, City Life Historic Properties and Cross Street Partners, are expected to start restoration in the fall. The building on East Biddle Street has been sitting empty for over 35 years.Stokes said Strong City is working to bring in a writer’s cooperative, café, entrepreneurs who are looking for shared office space and Morgan State University classes.
Private and public money is financing the renovation, as well as a mortgage. Developers recently purchased the Hoen building from the city for $200,000. A grant for $500,000 was approved to help with cleanup and stabilization efforts. Governor Larry Hogan approved a $400,000 contribution from his Project CORE redevelopment initiative.
The project is also receiving new market tax credits, federal and historic tax credits. The nonprofit has also raised nearly $5 million for the project.
Crews are already on-sit cleaning up hazardous materials from a transformer that was vandalized, stabilizing trusses and patching holes in the floor.
If all goes as planned, Strong City will be ready to move in the new Center for Neighborhood Innovation by December 2018.
With an operating budget of $3.6 million, Strong City serves as the fiscal sponsor for about 100 organizations and operates the 29th Street Community Center.