In 1989, Belward Farm was sold to Johns Hopkins University for $5 million, much below its $54 million estimated value with the understanding that Hopkins would build a minimally intrusive medical or academic campus that would preserve the character of the farm and provide a legacy for the Banks family who had owned it for over 100 years.
Johns Hopkins agreed to a plan in 1997 that would allow them to build an academic/research campus on Belward Farm that would accommodate approximately 5,000 people. But, once the late owner, Elizabeth Banks, passed away, the University worked with the county to rezone the property to build a monstrous commercial office complex for 15,000 people in buildings up to 14 stories tall. Belward Farm is a Civil War- era farm that is surrounded on three sides by residential neighborhoods and is 5 miles from the nearest Metro station.
Frederic Fransen, Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (Cehe.org) said, "Over time and after a changing of the guard at the university, Hopkins announced plans to build a high- density commercial research-and-development office park on the property. Montgomery County officials, smelling money, eagerly approved the revised plans. What's particularly troublesome is that local officials, in effect, became co-conspirators in the university's effort to shaft the donor."
Terrence Scanlon,president of the Capital Research Center, said in The Examiner: “Banks' descendants are not happy about the shoddy treatment they have received from Johns Hopkins. On Nov. 10, 2011, Banks' heirs filed a lawsuit against the university in an effort to compel it to honor Banks' donor intent."
"The idea that donors should have a say in how their bequests are used is well-established in American law. Governments should not intervene to dishonor donor intent unless a bequest is immoral, unlawful, rendered obsolete, or impossible to attain. And when disputes arise, probate courts should hand down decisions that come as close as possible to honoring donor intent. If there is any justice in the world, Banks' heirs should score an easy win.”
On December 17th The Washington Post said: “So it’s sad that Banks’s deepest wish — to prevent overbuilding on what are now rolling, grassy fields at Belward Farm — is at severe risk of being bulldozed. And it’s doubly sad, and even shameful, that the culprit that might betray her is the very institution that she trusted to honor her desires: Johns Hopkins University.”
"Jimb" commented on the above article: “JHU demonstrates again that unchecked greed is not limited to Wall Street. Either by infection or importation of Wall Street types, JHU reveals itself as without honor. Is there no honor anymore?”
The lack of integrity shown by the Hopkins officials is appalling.
The addresses for the President of Johns Hopkins University and the Chair of the Board of Trustees is on the ADDRESSES page. Write to them about your opposition to Johns Hopkins Real Estate's plan for Belward Farm.