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What happened to Towson Row?

towson row

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.”

towson-row_plaza-rendering_2015-01-20

Towson Row rendering

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.

Site of the future Towson Row

Site of the future Towson Row

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.”

-Kris Henry

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7 Comments on "What happened to Towson Row?"

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Where are media watch dogs?
Where are media watch dogs?

Caves Valley is also involved in County Exec Kevin Kamenetz’s done-deal proposal to put in a 16-pump gas station at the Northern gateway to Towson, which would function as a truck stop with diesel, immediately adjacent to a school (when the EPA warns that gas stations should NOT be put within 1,000 feet of a school). What kind of mess would they leave there if they are up against money issues to put in a gas station where it is not zoned now?

What kind of disaster would they wreak in the Southland Hills neighborhood at the Bosley Mansion / Presbyterian Home? And why is Caves Valley getting all these deals? The Baltimore Sun or other relevant media needs to look into various connections between the county executive and Caves Valley.

And why, for example, would the developers create such a sweetheart deal for the Royal Farms gas station, which would only pay the county about $25,000 a year in tax revenue vs. a potential $500,000 annually as previously proposed for a higher grade development.

Something doesn’t smell right here, in more ways than one.

Roger

Evasion of adequate public facility guidelines is very profitable. Developer friendly Baltimore County government has crafted so many convoluted special exceptions that an average citizen could never figure it out. Citizens can figure out who endures the cost of our overloaded traffic, school and water systems.

Trish Bentz

Caves Valley is also involved with the Bosley Mansion / Presbyterian Home of Maryland in Southland Hills.

D. Geo

A lot of residents want to know WTH is going on at this point ?? How can there be no info??

Sam C

What a disaster. Blight and abandonment connected to the blighted and decaying Triangle. Reap what you sow, Towson. The anti-development crowd got its wish. The southern gateway to Towson has become a total embarrassment.

Taxpayer

development does not have to be an either or proposition. When developers and adminstration work together transparently with community input, there is a win-win result. Those you characterize as “anti-development” want benefits for the community that compensate for the burden large scale development places on public facilities like roads, utilities and open space. These benefits can come from the government and/or developers, but currently both parties are united against the constituents. Public transit, bike-ped friendly roads and open space are well documented features of cities that thrive economically and socially.

wut?

How is this a result of the “anti-development crowd”? Sounds like the project is running into money problems, not protesters.

wpDiscuz