The Social Security Administration is moving its Towson office from the West Road Corporate Center at 110 West Road to the Penthouse Condominium high-rise at 28 Allegheny Avenue in downtown Towson next spring, and the move is being seen by some as a boon for the downtown area.
"All those people who work for or visit Social Security will be having breakfast or lunch or doing a little shopping," said Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce.
Some residents of the 28-floor Penthouse, though, are concerned that the presence of SSA could be problematic — depending on how many people the office draws to the building.
"There has been some discussion about bringing strangers into the building and people tying up the elevators," said Julio Gonzales. "And parking might be a big problem."
SSA spokesman Aidan Diviny said the new location will offer "the same service" as what's offered on West Road, but could not provide information about how many employees would be making the move and how many visitors come to that site routinely.
Gina Blyther Gilliam, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, said in an email that the Social Security Administration currently occupies 11,365 square feet of office space at West Road, and has been there since June 2003.
She said the GSA awarded a lease for 11,618 square feet of office space with 45 parking spaces in May 2010 to Ravens Penthouse. The annual rent will be about $322,400, she said.
Towson resident Joe Werner, who owns the 300-space mid-rise garage adjoining the Penthouse, said he believes parking won't be a problem. Ravens Penthouse is providing free parking for the SSA, thanks to fifth- and sixth-floor parking spaces they will lease from him.
The Social Security offices will be on the fourth floor of the Penthouse, which is at street level on Joppa Road. It will feature an entrance for employees and delivery people.
Since street level is different in the front of the building, SSA clients will use the main entrance on Allegheny and be directed to walk up one flight of stairs to SSA on the fourth floor, Werner said. Most won't be using the elevators.
Those who are driving to the SSA office will park on the designated levels of his garage and take an elevator to the entrance to the Penthouse's fourth floor.
County Council member David Marks, who represents the 5th District, which includes Towson, said he's anxious for the Social Security move as a means of adding people to downtown Towson.
"Every little project produces more foot traffic," he said.
"There's a tremendous amount of action going on in the core," Marks said. "Allegheny Avenue will just be hopping. I hope we can spread that down York Road."