Arbutus Station developer

Developer Steve Whalen stands near the stairs that lead to nowhere on his property on Sulphur Spring Road. Whalen plans to build two commercial buildings on the site as part of his Arbutus Station project. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda / March 18, 2014)

One of the main gateways into Arbutus is expected to undergo a major change if a project by Catonsville developer Steve Whalen gets underway.

The project, Arbutus Station, will bring two commercial buildings near the intersection of Sulphur Spring Road and Waelchli Avenue.

One building will be a 20,000-square-foot mixed-use commercial building with office space on the top floor and retail space on the first floor.

The other building will be an approximately 7,000-square-foot restaurant.

The project is expected to cost between $4.5 and $5 million, Whalen said.

"I can't remember how long it's been since anyone has invested that much into the Arbutus community," Whalen said.

Because there is a tenant on the property whose lease isn't up until December 2014, construction wouldn't begin until April 1, 2015, Whalen said.

Whalen said in an email that the community input meeting on the project had been held in December and the hearing officer's hearing for development plan approval could be scheduled within 90 days.

After that approval, it would take another three or four months to complete final construction plans and have the county issue building permits, according to his email.

The project is expected to take about nine months to complete, which means it wouldn't be finished until late 2015 or early 2016, he said.

Terry Nolan, president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, said the local business group supports the project.

"We're a business association and we believe a rising tide lifts all boats. The addition of business to Arbutus is always welcome, " Nolan said.

"We believe this is an entry way to Arbutus and if it becomes an island of business, instead of an area of broken down woods, that's a good thing for Arbutus," Nolan said.

Some residents of the neighborhood next to the site have voiced concerns about the project.

Fred and Donna Adcock, who live in the neighborhood, said that while they respect Whalen's right to build, they're concerned about how the site will affect their neighborhood.

The couple, who purchased their home on Arbutus Avenue in 1992, will be able to see the development from their front steps.

"When we bought into this neighborhood, it was a quiet street. We're very concerned about this road getting noisy from the traffic it could bring," Fred Adcock said.

The couple said they're worried about how the new development will affect their property value.

They don't want to see an entrance to the restaurant and retail center so close to their home.

Whalen anticipates filling the restaurant space with a casual dining establishment.