Around Eager Park

Unite a Community by Giving Them a Focus

A consortium of national and local developers, Johns Hopkins, and the local community focused on transforming 88 acres of East Baltimore into a thriving mixed-use, mixed-income community that embraced the needs of long-term residents, young families, students, biotech companies and local retailers. It was a tall order considering years of neglect, half-started projects and little visible progress. In a diverse community, there were diverse visions for the development, and this led to distrust and disagreement.

Forest City hired CO OP to create a brand that would provide a platform to market the individual components of the project and unlock the financial potential of the project. Several previous agencies had proposed new names for the development but the way in which they worked with the community only created more distrust.

We recognized we had to break this vicious cycle of distrust and find a way to unite the community before we could do any marketing. It all started by reinventing ‘social media’. We spent time on the streets asking people for their opinions, thoughts, ideas and stories of the neighborhood. This started to rebuild some trust. But the breakthrough came once we identified that there were only two things everyone could agree on: Of all of the proposed initiatives the plan to build a community park at the heart of the development was the only part that was truly embraced by everyone; and putting the needs of kids first was the only way to get everyone to change their entrenched views on what they thought was best for the neighborhood.

Round Eager Park

Headline here…

“So there I was in the park, surrounded by the kids of the neighborhood. They played with Legos, learned about plants, heard stories about the neighborhood from the elders, and got to submit the names they wanted for the park. All the credit goes to Forest City for bringing the development of the park forward five years and letting the kids name it. It was a radical approach but it worked.” Jennifer Wallace, EVP, Director of Client Services, CO OP

We created an anti-marketing place. Instead of branding a finite development we made the park the center of a transforming neighborhood – Around Eager Park.

Headline here…

The project now has momentum. The Henderson Hopkins school is open for kids; rows of row homes are renovated and occupied; scientific lab buildings are filled with tech clients; and the park is the center of a diverse and vibrant community.

Partner Point of View

We were tasked with creating marketing. But marketing wasn’t working. We went back to human basics. We made brand work by working hard to build trust. To properly engage with the community meant we needed to be out on the streets listening and making friends. An unusual but essential way to make this project succeed.

Simon Hunter
Partner, Chief Innovation Officer



John Hopkins


Baltimore, MD

Brand Works:



Mixed Use