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Towson Fire Station site selected for Royal Farms, restaurant

A large Royal Farms complex with extra restaurant and retail space would replace the 55-year-old Towson Fire Station and Public Works Facility in Towson if plans by Baltimore County officials to sell the site to a private developer are adopted.

Rendering of Royal Farms site

A rendering of the proposed mixed-use development at York Road and Bosley Avenue, the northern gateway to Towson.

The development was one of three unveiled by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on Thursday after he launched a 10-month bid process to sell three “functionally obsolete” county-owned properties in Towson, Dundalk and Randallstown and replace them with modern facilities with the proceeds.

The County Council will begin to consider the three contracts, which total more than $10.6 million, on Monday. A vote is expected by mid-November.

In all, eight bids were submitted for the three properties.

Two of the selected proposals will require further planning in the form of planned unit developments, or PUDs. These will require extensive public participation over a period of up to 18 months before redevelopment can begin.

The county executive has pushed to sell the properties since last December and a committee of county real estate, development, planning and legal officials was formed in early 2013 to examine proposals submitted for the surplus properties. Kamenetz said the properties “were all 50 to 60 years old [and] in need of replacement.” The fire station in Towson would relocate to a nearby site in an upgraded $6 million facility, while the current police precinct in Dundalk would move to the former Eastwood Elementary School after $5 million in renovations are completed, Kamenetz said.

Besides converting the former fire station at York Road and Bosley Avenue into a mixed-use site anchored by a convenience store and gas station — complete with a water fountain display welcoming visitors to Towson from the north — the two other proposals selected are:

* A plan by Vanguard Commercial Development Inc. to develop 15 acres of a nearly 28-acre parcel at the North Point Government Center in Dundalk as a mixed-use retail and restaurant project called into Merritt Pavilion. It will include upgrades and additions to existing county-owned athletic fields. A new recreation center, amphitheater and gazebo will also be added.

* Conversion of a police substation in Randallstown by 101 Development Group LLC into a parking lot for Genesis HealthCare’s Randallstown Center, a 160-bed skilled nursing center located next door.

Towson-based Caves Valley Partners was selected to develop the new Royal Farms complex, which will include 10,000 square feet of retail space and a 4,200-square-foot restaurant pad. The developer announced in June that it would build Towson Row, a $300 million mixed-use project on the southern end of Towson near Towson University on York Road. That project will include 350 high-rise apartments, 300 student housing units and a 200-room hotel as well as 100,000 square feet of retail space and 200,000 square feet of office space.

The new Royal Farms is being developed by a subsidiary of the group called CVP-TF LLC, which bid $8.3 million for the property. The development will require further planning under a PUD.

A separate proposal to build a Harris Teeter there failed after the chain declined to commit to the space, Kamenetz said.

Vanguard’s plan to add the mixed-use development to the North Point Government Center will also require a PUD. The local developer bid $2.1 million for the 15 acres.

Amy Menzer, executive director of Dundalk Renaissance Corp., said Thursday the nonprofit welcomed the changes at North Point, which she termed the geographic center of the small eastern Baltimore County community that often seems like a village.

“We welcome the reinvestment in the Dundalk community,” Menzer said. “I hope it will become a real hub for the community and give people less need to have to drive outside to do their shopping.”

The bid for the former police substation in Randallstown was $275,000, Kamenetz said.