Joseph Jones — founder, president and CEO of the Center for Urban Families — said he wished there was a one-stop shop of community resources for him and his mother when he was growing up in Baltimore. The opportunities may have prevented him from getting involved in the drug trade and ending up incarcerated, he said.

The former Target building at the Mondawmin Mall will soon house such a space, TouchPoint Empowerment Center, that will also serve as an anchor for surrounding neighborhoods.

Tim Regan, president and CEO of Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and the lead on the development, said the center will offer mentoring, job opportunities and training and other services from nonprofits. It will also house TouchPoint Baltimore, a collective of different nonprofits, founded by Regan and president and chief operating officerof Exelon Calvin Butler Jr. after the 2015 uprising following the death of Freddie Gray.

A few of the nonprofits that will have a presence in the community hub are Thread, Baltimore Corps, and Jones’ nonprofit, which helps fathers and families achieve stability and economic security.

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At a press conference Thursday morning in front of the old Target, Regan gathered with Mayor Brandon Scott and City Council President Nick Mosby, as well as other community and political leaders, to celebrate the groundbreaking for the project and to announce the development’s new name.

“We’re please to announce, ‘The Village at Mondawmin,’” said Regan, as a poster with the name was unveiled. It was chosen after discussing options in community planning meetings, he said.

Leaders discussed the loss of the old Target, and what it had meant to the community.

“It shuttered on us overnight. And we said, what are we going to do?” Mosby said Thursday.

“This is an example that will provide a roadmap of how you take a loss and make it into a win,” he said. Later, the crowd cheered as part of the old Target’s front wall was torn down.

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Regan, in an interview prior to the press conference, said couldn’t go into detail about certain parts of the project, but said the development will have a PACE — or Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly — facility and that the team is “working really hard” on establishing a child care option. There have also been serious discussions with a primary care operator and interest from a corporation to put in a training facility for customer service personnel, he added.

For those who live in the community the project is a welcome sign of investment in a community, still recovering from the blow of the surprise departure of Target in 2018. Anchors are also important in providing a synergy with neighborhoods to more intentionally address community needs and desires, a community engagement expert said.

Regan said he was distraught by the closure and saw purchasing the 127,000-square-foot building as a chance to provide a solution with extensive community involvement and hopefully catalyze other developments or initiatives.

“It’s really important to show other potential investors that when you go in, in the right way, and you make a bet on an underserved underresourced community, you really have the opportunity to unlock tremendous potential,” he said.

District 7 Councilman James Torrence said one of the recurring questions that came up when he was running for office was what was going to be done with the Target footprint. For many, the store’s closure left a void in the community.

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“When people see that there’s been significant investments in an anchor institution like Mondawmin Mall, you start to think, ‘What’s next for my neighborhood?’” said Torrence, who noted investments can empower communities to aspire for more.

One expert said it’s important for anchor institutions to address needs that have been identified by the community, decide who to partner with when they aren’t equipped or qualified to address certain needs and buckle in for a long-term commitment.

The Greater Mondawmin area has existing established institutions like the mall, which first opened in 1956, Baltimore City Community College, Coppin State University, several churches, nonprofits and more. Yet despite these assets, it has experienced negative social and health impacts because of disinvestment and marginalization, said Bill Joyner, assistant vice president for community engagement with the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

“Institutions like hospitals, universities, local government and museums, have a duty to address some of the underlying issues around things like poverty, violence, and health disparities," Joyner said.

Anchor sites and institutions, he added, can be symbolic in the first phases but should ultimately lead to concrete investments.

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Jacqueline Caldwell, Whittier-Monroe Community Association president, said communities aren’t often consulted about development projects. During brainstorm sessions and outreach with Regan, she said, people pitched ideas such as a crab restaurant, jazz club or event space. Ultimately, the community hub, she said, can connect people to more opportunities. She also said it had the potential to reach people outside of the neighborhood who take public transportation through Mondawmin Station, a major transit hub at the mall.

The redevelopment of the Target property is happening along with other new additions and efforts in the area. Caldwell said it’s “another example of what can happen in Baltimore to make Baltimore the best that it can be” and proves that the communities are worth investing in.

Earlier this month, Chase opened a bank branch at Mondawmin Mall with a community-inspired model that has plans to help more veteran, minority and women consumers with business ventures, achieving homeownership and improving financial health. A Baltimore Banner analysis found that West Baltimore has the most communities lacking a local bank branch.

Neighborhood Housing Services also has a goal to eliminate vacancies in Greater Mondawmin within the decade. To help reach that aim, it will use $2.8 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding on development and efforts such as helping residents with home repair and working on modifications in the area. Vacancies in the Mondawmin neighborhood are at 13.5%, according to a Baltimore Banner analysis in June.

Brookfield Properties, which manages Mondawmin Mall, has a program to provide resources and support to Black-owned and minority-owned businesses. South of Mondawmin Mall, one of West Baltimore’s first food halls — The Mill on North — is brewing and expected to open in 2023.

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This story will be updated.