Developer to host community input meeting on Presbyterian Home development plan

The developers of the former Presbyterian Home of Maryland will host a community input meeting Nov. 1 to share details with the public of their proposal to remake the property.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at George Washington Carver High School, in Towson, according to a sign staked on the property.

The property, at 400 Georgia Court, in West Towson’s Southland Hills, is being redeveloped by Marty Azola of Azola Companies and Delbert Adams of Delbert Adams Construction Group under the name Bosley Estates LLC.

The Presbyterian Home of Maryland closed its nursing facility at the site last year and it sale of the property to the developers is pending. The site includes a 165-year old house known as the Bosley Mansion, which the development team has promised to preserve.

Baltimore-based Azola Companies specializes in what is known as adaptive reuse, or the historic preservation and reuse of old buildings, according to its website.

A planned unit development application submitted to Baltimore County in September calls for keeping the original mansion and many of its additions, plus adding two new residential buildings and several small additions to build up to 45 condominiums.

However, the 4.5-acre property is zoned for up to 28 residential units, meaning Azola and Adams must seek the planned unit development — commonly known as a PUD — to allow them to build beyond the limit.

A PUD is approved for projects that the County Council determines will achieve "substantially higher-quality development than a conventional development or provide a public benefit that would otherwise not be obtained," according to Baltimore County officials.

The partners’ vision for the property is to transform the vacant former nursing home into a “unique, upscale residential condominium building while still preserving the front yard green space and enhancing the overall ambiance of the property,” according to the PUD application.

Wednesday’s meeting is a requirement of the county’s development review process, though the developers have also hosted informal meetings with community leaders and members to gather feedback, Azola said.

Azola and Adams met with about 50 community members earlier this month to present the plans and talk to concerned neighbors.

The plan calls for on-site parking to avoid taking up parking in nearby neighborhoods. The design is also respectful of the community’s desire to preserve the front lawn of the mansion, which is often used as a community gathering space, according to Azola.

“We’ve done quite a bit of preliminary outreach,” Azola said. “We thought it was responsible to chat with the community — both the leaders and community members at large — as soon as we had some definite thoughts.”

The response the team has received is “very, very positive,” Adams said. “We’re excited about the project and excited about what it can do as a rebirth for the building and the property.”

The meeting will be hosted entirely by the developers, according to Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler.

Once a PUD resolution is submitted to the Baltimore County Council, county officials will co-host a meeting with the developer to create a concept plan and eventually hold a public meeting with developers if the PUD is approved, Kobler said.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, said he has been “publicly optimistic” about the plans for the property and will likely submit a PUD resolution by the end of the year. His goal for the project is to preserve the historic integrity of the Bosley Mansion and as much of the property’s green space as possible, he said.

Both are concerns the developers said they will address.

“I know there are some neighbors who do not like the proposed additions to the mansion, and I think the developer is trying to accommodate these concerns,” Marks said in an Oct. 25 email. “But the last thing I want is for the mansion to simply decay while we wait for the perfect development.”

Azola and Adams say they will not move forward with the project if it is unpopular with the community.

“We’d rather do something special and popular or nothing at all,” Azola said. “We’re not in the business of doing a project nobody wants.”

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