Inside the upscale corridors at Green Spring Station, window displays show the latest fashions and whimsical accessories.
But the ornate and colorful frills offered daily to hundreds of visitors to the Lutherville development mask a tug of war that has been going on behind the scenes for years over future growth of the center.
Last week, the Baltimore County Planning Board denied an attempt to downzone parts of the property as the developers are ramping up a push to launch a $25 million renovation of the tennis barns and a minor retail extension. It was the latest chapter in a nearly two decades-long battle using the local zoning code to quell aspirations to add to the successful development located near the busy crossroads of Interstates 83 and 695.
“We are pushing forward,” said Tom Peddy, co-owner of the majority of the Green Spring Station retail and office complex that includes retail establishments, three tennis barns and private office space. “Our buildings are now 27 years old and they are ready for a new look.”
A large Johns Hopkins Medicine satellite center also in the complex is owned by another developer.
The proposal by Peddy and his partner in Foxleigh Enterprises, Herb Fredeking, calls for demolishing two of three tennis barns and replacing them with a redesigned rehabilitation and wellness center and medical offices totaling 85,000 square feet with 350 new surface parking spaces.
On the other side of the parking lot, about 5,000 square feet of retail would be added to the existing Joppa and Falls Concourses of the Green Spring Station.
The entire project is at least a year from breaking ground — if all zoning and community and county approvals are achieved.
For now, Peddy is awaiting a ruling from a county administrative law judge about a special zoning variance relating to traffic woes long cited at Falls and Joppa Roads, near Green Spring Station, that has been listed for years as a “failed” intersection by the State Highway Administration because of congestion problems.
That decision, expected within a week, will determine the course of the Foxleigh plans for the redevelopment, Peddy said. In addition, the county’s comprehensive zoning process, now underway through September, will address the proposed expansion plans.
The process so far has been daunting, some say.
“It’s been the most confusing issue that I’ve dealt with,” said County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, whose district includes the Green Spring Station. “It’s not just one developer, it’s Johns Hopkins, the developer, and a community association that is very vocal, so there are a lot of people and personalities involved in it.”
Almond said Tuesday she was uncertain how she would vote on the zoning changes once the matters are forwarded to the council this summer and early fall. She hopes for consensus between the community and the developers over the proposed changes.
“I have asked the community and Fredeking to talk to each other to see how we can work this out, but so far there has been nothing worked out,” she said. “I’m still struggling with wherever it is going. There are so many factors involved.”
Over the years, attempts have been made to add new office space and parking to the station. They have been met with protest from the community over concerns of added traffic and congestion.
One phase of Green Spring Station was built in 1979 and another in 1983, Peddy said. Members of his family have owned an establishment at the site since May 1936 when they opened the Green Spring Inn, a popular restaurant with ballroom dancing.
The site has been a retail center since the 1830s when a toll booth and tavern was built there by John Cockey, which is still standing as a registered historic landmark at the entrance to Green Spring Station.
The redevelopment has grown out of a need to update the project, which is 100 percent leased, Peddy said, and to allow for limited expansion to the retail and restaurant lineup that includes Matava Shoes, Craft Concepts, Wee Chic, Tark’s Grill and the Stone Mill Bakery and Café.
Teresa Moore, executive director of the Valleys Planning Council, a nonprofit land preservation group, has been monitoring the expansion plans. The development is located near the gateway to the Greenspring Valley, one of the county’s designated rural agricultural areas with hundreds of acres protected in preservation easements.
The main issue with Foxleigh’s plans centers on better communication, she said.
“Residents are concerned about their overall plans and have asked for a master plan for the campus, but have not been able to get that,” Moore said. “The main thing we’re concerned about is we’d like to see the full plan.”