Greenberg Gibbons joins Caves Valley on Towson Row project

The developer of the stalled Towson Row project is bringing in a partner to help jump start the $350 million development in the heart of the Towson's commercial corridor.

Greenberg Gibbons will join Caves Valley Partners on Towson Row, a massive, mixed-use development proposed for the corner of York Road and Towsontown Boulevard, officials announced Monday.

The companies will now be "co-developers" for the project.

"We think that the opportunity is limitless here to do this really exciting, urban-style project and we're very excited about it," said Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of Owings Mills-based Greenberg Gibbons.

Gibbons said he hopes to get construction started on the site by the end of the year, with much of the project completed in 20 to 24 months.

Arthur Adler, a partner with Towson-based Caves Valley Partners, did not respond to a request for comment.

Towson Row was first announced in 2013 as a project with apartments, student housing units, a hotel, an office tower and retail shops anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store, which is committed to the project. It was touted by county officials, including County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, as a transformational project for downtown Towson, which officials wants to become more of an urban community.

Caves Valley tore down buildings on the site in early 2015 and held a "site debut" ceremony that fall, but construction never proceeded.

Officials acknowledged late last year they needed to rework designs because of difficulties building an underground parking garage due to geological issues. The garage needed to be moved above ground, affecting the plans for the other components of the project.

Gibbons said is company had been working "in the background" with Caves Valley for the last 18 months on the redesign. Updated plans will be submitted to Baltimore County development officials this week or next, he said.

"We've simplified the design," Gibbons said. "We now have a project that is feasible to build."

In addition to moving the parking above-ground, the companies will slightly decrease the size of the office building and reduce the number of residential units. The overall project will have at least 1 million square feet of space — as large as the nearby Towson Town Center mall — on about 5 acres.

Greenberg Gibbons will take the lead on the retail, residential, student housing and hotel parts of the project, while Caves Valley will focus on the office part of the project, the companies announced.

Gibbons said his team will travel to Las Vegas next week to pitch the project to potential tenants at the International Council of Shopping Centers' annual conference.

Gibbons said his company brings expertise as well as additional investors who will contribute about $100 million to the project, which will be jointly controlled by Greenberg Gibbons and Caves Valley.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said he welcomes the involvement of Greenberg Gibbons.

"They have an excellent reputation and people just want to see some progress being made on the site," said Marks, a Perry Hall Republican who represents the Towson area.

He said getting Towson Row rolling could bolster other development projects in Towson.

"The lack of construction at that site has cast a shadow over all the other progress that's occurring in Towson," he said.

Marks recently introduced a council bill related to sidewalk access near construction sites — responding to complaints from residents that sidewalks near Towson Row have been blocked for months while the project was stalled. He said Monday the companies have promised to reopen those sidewalks, and he will withdraw the bill.

Kamenetz, a Democrat, declined an interview request, but in a statement release by Greenberg Gibbons said the county looks forward with working with the two companies to help "bring Towson Row out of the ground."

Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said she was pleased with the partnership.

"Although we have a lot of faith in Caves Valley, we also feel very good about Greenberg Gibbons," Hafford said. "They've done these kind of rodeos lots of times. We feel like they'll get the ball rolling."

"I think this partnership is exactly what this development needed," said Katie Chasney Pinheiro, director of the Greater Towson Committee. "Hopefully this will now quiet the naysayers."

pwood@baltsun.com

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