Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Towson’s ‘golden triangle’ facing scrutiny

The 14-acre strip of land that some regard as the entry to Towson is under the microscope for possible redevelopment these days.

Called the “golden triangle,” this small collection of food spots, small businesses and the Towson American Legion Post No. 22 hall is located on the west side of York Road, just north of Burke Avenue. It is prime real estate in the county seat because of the central location.

And that’s where the scrutiny comes in.

DMS Development is pondering a gateway project there, which could include an open-air, California-style mixed-use development of residences, restaurants and retail mainly to attract Towson University students. The firm is seeking a new zoning classification at the site through the county’s comprehensive rezoning process, now underway and slated to wrap up in the early fall.

A few months ago, county’s planners recommended against the rezoning request, which was upheld by the Planning Board. Towson’s representative on the County Council, David Marks, said he will make his decision in June. But he said this week that fears the existing businesses there are endangered are unfounded.

“That’s not going to happen,” he said of the possibility of a total conversion of the site.

While some of the businesses have either sold or discussed selling with DMS, Marks said any further plans do not exist. He said the university once had a vision to build a ballroom at the site, connected to the Marriott next door, “but they have walked” away from that.

“Whatever happens there has to be special,” Marks said. “It’s in the heart of Towson and is a bridge in the university and the retail corridor. Right now, it’s underutilized, it is really key to revitalization.”

Marks said that within three years, the golden triangle site will undergo some change, at very least a gussy up of some of the vacant sites where an eyesore of a flat surface parking lot now sits.

In general, Towson’s development picture these days is a mixed bag.

Just north of the triangle sits a real estate version tale of two cities: The disastrous commercial portion of the Towson Commons still remains vacant while behind the old Hutzler’s building, The Cordish Cos. and Heritage Properties are finalizing plans for the 4.2-acre Towson Circle III project, expected to break ground this summer for a 16-screen Cinemark theater and new retail and restaurants.

*****
Chase Brexton Health Services will soon expand to a total of 13,394 square feet suburban of office space at the Columbia Medical Campus at 5500 Knoll North Dr. at the intersection of Routes 175 and 29.

The nonprofit now offers health services in an 8,121-square foot building, and the new lease signed will add 5,273 square feet to the Howard County facility.

“The Landlord’s ability to accommodate an expansion allows Chase Brexton to service more people in the Columbia area, many of whom do not have access to health care from other sources. With this expansion, Chase Brexton will now have the opportunity to provide additional services to include a pharmacy,” Dan Neumeister, Chase Brexton CEO, said in a statement.

CBRE’s Kim Penny and Laura Westervelt represented building owner, ACC Columbia Medical Campus L.P., and Terri Harrington, of Mackenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, represented Chase Brexton.

*****

The Baltimore Design School, currently a new city middle school with a focus on creative arts and fashion, will break ground Monday at 11 a.m. at 1500 Barclay St. in the city’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

The school will be located in the former Lebow Clothing Factory, which is about to undergo a $25 million renovation to convert it into a four-story, 120,000-square-foot space for classrooms, a gallery, computer labs, studios and fabrication suites. The building’s former loading dock will be converted into an outdoor fashion show space, and antique sewing machines found in the building will be part of a permanent display.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh, a local style icon, is the school’s founder and chair of the BDS Board of Directors. Fred Lazarus IV, president of the Maryland Institute College of Art, is the board’s vice chair.

The school, located in temporary quarters in the former Winston Middle School at The Alameda and Beaumont Avenue, is set to open in the new space in the fall of 2013.

Renovations are being funded and overseen by the BDS board, Baltimore City Public Schools and Seawall Development. Ziger/Snead Architects has designed the new space and Southway Builders Inc. is the general contractor.

BDS will add an eighth grade class this August and in the fall 2013, a ninth grade class.

*****

Craftsmen Developers will soon begin a new 108-unit townhouse community in Dundalk called the Townes at North Point.

The 10-acre project will be built at the site of the old North Point Boulevard Drive-in Theater on North Point Blvd. at the corner of Old Battle Grove Road. It is expected to open in late 2013.

*****

This week, Baltimore County welcomed a new nonprofit career development center in Woodlawn.

Herbert J. Hoelter, co-founder and CEO of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, officially opened the $3 million Career Development Center at 2621 Lord Baltimore Dr. in Woodlawn.

The 19,000-square-foot center will house a career development program including computer-assisted training, for approximately 250 intellectually disabled adults. The facility will employ case managers, employment specialists, psychological associates, job coaches, quality control and compliance officers and vocational instructors.

“Baltimore County is proud to be home to a program dedicated to providing life-changing career training to intellectually disabled individuals,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

The county helped fund construction with a $2.7 million revenue bond. The National Center on Institutions and Alternatives is eligible for tax exempt federal bonds, and after the county authorizes the bond, it does not incur financial liability, officials said.

*****
This week, the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development launched an online database of available properties in the state.

Called Maryland Business Properties, the listing has more than 400 available commercial, retail or industrial properties and 1,400 buildings available for lease or purchase. It is updated weekly and allows searches by property type, site size, location and zoning and even transit rail options.

“Maryland Business Properties is the latest in a suite of free interactive tools that DBED introduced this year to give our citizens, businesses and economic development partners improved access to information and research, which helps to spur economic activity and create jobs,” DBED Secretary Christian S. Johansson said in a statement. “With this new system, businesses looking to locate to the State or expand to a new site have a simple one-stop search to find their ideal home in Maryland.”

*****
This week, a $5.9 million plan to replace the aging clubhouse at Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club in Columbia was approved by the board of the Columbia Association.

Local architecture and interior design firm Chambers developed the plan. Chambers specializes in private country, golf and city clubs designs.

Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and will take up to 11 months to complete. The project will also include construction of a “turn house” between the ninth and 10th holes complete with restrooms and a snack bar for golfers.

*****
TIDBITS: Shula’s Steak House has closed up grill at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel on Baltimore Street. As first reported this week in The Sun, the south Florida-based restaurant, owned by former Baltimore Colts coach Don Shula, has been replaced with a new venture called “The Restaurant” … On May 19, put on your dancing shoes and head to Towson Town Center where the mall and retailer H&M will sponsor Baby Loves Disco, a “family dance party phenomenon” for kids, parents and even grandparents. The free event begins with DJs spinning “G-rated dance tunes” at 1 p.m. in the Grand Court on level one… Transwestern has recently negotiated a 25,576-square-foot lease between Atapco Properties Inc. and GRAMACO Granite & Marble LLC at 8730 Greenwood Place in Savage. Transwestern’s Tom Gentner, Brian Watts and Mark Glagola represented the landlord, while Brian Siegel, also of Transwestern, represented the tenant … In last week’s blog, it was erroneously reported that Broad Street purchased two Fitness First health clubs in Gaithersburg and Frederick. It was Fitness First that purchased the properties and Broad Street was the broker.