Downtown projects Towson Row and Towson Station each took a step forward in the development process Wednesday night when Baltimore County’s Design Review Panel approved each project under the condition that each developer address its concerns. In particular, the panel wanted Towson Row developers to ensure transformers would not be visible from the street, and that Towson Station install more sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic.
The panel’s six members heard presentations from architects and engineers about each project’s landscaping, architectural design and materials, then weighed the aesthetics of each design. More than 30 people were in attendance.
Developer Greenberg Gibbons of Owings Mills presented the design for the first building in the Towson Row $350 million 5-acre mixed-use development, a Hilton-branded hotel attached to a restaurant in the very core of Towson. The panel largely approved the 12-story building, but had concerns about the position of windows on the second level and about whether the building’s transformers would be visible from Towsontown Boulevard.
Then Towson Station’s developer, Caves Valley Partners, of Towson, presented its plans for a three-building retail development on the corner of York Road and Bosley Avenue anchored by a Chase bank. The panel voted to approve the design, but with a list of reservations so long that Mitchell Kellmann, the panel member who put forward the motion, had to ask the rest of the panel for help naming them all.
Echoing the sentiment of community members who testified about Towson Station, panel member Ed Hord said the design showed a “very nice suburban shopping center” – but that as a “gateway” to an emerging urban district, it was “disappointing.”
“What bothers me is that it’s a nicer strip center that could be something more,” Hord said. “But it’s not.”
The Design Review Panel is made up of engineers, architects and others knowledgeable in design. It reviews projects in Towson’s core as one step in the development review process, but its decisions are not binding and an administrative law judge can decide whether or not to enforce its recommendations, according to the Baltimore County website.