In October 2015, Baltimore County officials announced a new development that officials said would be transformative to downtown Towson.
“Towson Row will transform the Towson skyline and become a focal point for residents, workers and visitors,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “You can clearly see Towson Row’s footprint as you walk through downtown Towson. It’s exciting to see so much site activity as this significant private investment moves forward.”
But more than a year later, no construction has started on the project, which is located at the corner of York Road and Towsontown Boulevard. The buildings on the site have been demolished, and there is now just an empty lot.
Rumors are flying as to the cause.
Whole Foods, which is to anchor the site, said it won’t comment on its status there, but also said not to read anything into that, as it has a policy of not commenting on such things.
Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson said he is “very frustrated” with the lack of movement on the project.
“It’s been over a year since the buildings along Chesapeake Avenue were demolished and a fence was installed that forces pedestrians into traffic,” Marks said. “I’ve been told by the attorney for the developer that the excavation proved more difficult and required a redesign of the project, and that there were some financing issues that needed to be worked out regarding the garage. Regardless, I think people want some activity. I get asked virtually every day when the Whole Foods is going to open.”
A spokeswoman for Kamenetz declined to comment and directed all calls to the developer, Caves Valley.
Neither Caves Valley nor its attorney have responded to numerous calls and emails asking why the project has stalled. Caves Valley is also the developer behind the controversial Royal Farms gas station proposed at York Road and Bosley Avenue.
State Sen. Jim Brochin said that the Kamenetz administration spent about $30 million to $40 million on infrastructure to support the Towson Row project and should therefore be more transparent about the project now.
“I think that Councilman Marks needs to hold a hearing and have the developer and Kevin Kamenetz or a representative come in and explain what’s going on,” Brochin said. “They can’t just leave us in the lurch and leave us guessing. They need to say whether it’s happening or not, and explain what is Plan B. All questions need to be asked. That’s how government should work.”
Marks replied that the “Baltimore County Council does not have the same power as the state legislature. We don’t have subpoena power; we don’t hold Washington-type hearings. I think many of these questions can be addressed through the Auditor and by asking the developer, the County Executive, and the Revenue Authority.”
Katie Chasney Pinheiro, executive director of the pro-development Greater Towson Committee, said she’s also heard rumors but declined to discuss them.
“Rumors are just rumors,” Pinheiro said. “The GTC tried not to ever comment on rumors.”