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BALTIMORE-A ground breaking has marked the development start of Village Commons, a mixed-use project that will consist of retail, residential and parking elements. The project is being spearheaded by a public-private partnership involving the city, locally based Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse and Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, a private real estate funds joint venture involving Los Angeles-based Canyon Capital Realty Advisors Magic Johnson’s Johnson Development Corp.

Canyon-Johnson is the $90-million project’s lead equity investor and is making the monetary resources available through its Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund II. Citigroup’s Citibank Community Development is also involved in the project, providing construction financing and a permanent loan. The city is funding a public garage facility at the property and is financing streetscaping surrounding the development.

Located off I-83, Village Commons is in Charles Village, an urban in-fill area of the city near Johns Hopkins University’s main campus and Union Memorial Hospital. The project is being developed in two phases, the first of which will consist of Village Lofts, a five-story structure containing 68 lofts, 12,000 sf of ground-level retail and underground parking. Phase II, or Village West, is scheduled to get under way next spring and will offer a 10-story building of 100 condominiums, 20,000 sf of retail and the remaining parking. The first residents of Village Lofts are on target for delivery in fall 2006.

The community itself played a large part in determining just what Village Commons would offer, and office space and rental apartments were not high priorities. Canyon-Johnson officials tell GlobeSt.com that the decision on the property’s composition was completely market-driven. Community meetings, focus groups and demographics studies led the project leaders to the conclusion that the highest demand was for condominiums and retail.

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