(March 9, 2020 – Cherry Hill, Baltimore) – A celebration of community empowerment brought more than one kind of bright skies for the Cherry Hill community Monday, as about 100 people gathered for the ceremonial kickoff of a three-phase renovation project at the Cherry Hill Town Center.
The project is the product of a long listening-to-serve initiative. Colleagues from Catholic Charities, which owns the property, spent months listening to community members and leaders like Michael Middleton of the Cherry Hill Community Coalition and Eric Jackson of Black Yield Institute. Working with Whiting-Turner Contracting, Weller Development, and several financial contributors, the result is a $4.5 million project that will bring everything from fresh food to entrepreneur opportunities to the community’s very first physical bank branch.
Middleton has spent decades working for sustainable improvements in his community, with the community’s voices lifted highest. At today’s groundbreaking, he thanked the partners who contributed to the collaboration, and then he thanked the people of Cherry Hill.
“Thank you for giving us an opportunity to help us,” Middleton said. “Let this day be a day that’s marked as a first step to so many bridge steps that will happen.”
The event drew leaders from city and state government, including Senate President Bill Ferguson and Delegate Brooke Lierman, who represent Cherry Hill in Annapolis; Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, City Council President Brandon Scott, and Maryland Secretary of Housing and Community Development Kenneth Holt.
The city provided $500,000 in funding for the project, while the state passed a $250,000 bond bill.
“The people of Cherry Hill have spent decades creating and supporting a beautiful, powerful community for themselves that they invite folks from all over the city to support and enjoy,” said Mayor Young. “Sometimes a community needs a collaboration to make something happen for itself, and that’s what this project is.”
“This is an investment in this community,” said Senate Pres. Ferguson. “It is a way of backing up our words with actions so that everyone knows we believe in the individuals and families, the entrepreneurs and advocates, who work to keep Cherry Hill the extraordinary community that it is.”
The renovation will begin with a new facade for the shopping center, and with the opening of the Chase Bank, in the summer of 2020. The second phase involves remodeling the current food court, which sits at the entrance to the Enoch Pratt Free Library branch, into a community gathering space. The third phase is a marketplace, providing fresh foods, a community kitchen with healthy cooking programming headed by Black Yield Institute’s Eric Jackson, pop-up entrepreneur space for incubating community businesses, and other opportunities. The full project is slated for completion in late summer 2021.
“I am most grateful to the residents and leaders of the Cherry Hill Community for your vision, partnership, encouragement and honesty as we have gone about this project together,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Bill McCarthy. “We work best when we listen more intently and talk less. That’s what is happening here in Cherry Hill.”