York 101 project is just what downtown Towson needs [Letter]

The proposed York 101 project is exactly what downtown Towson needs. Building a new mixed-use centerpiece on an under-utilized parcel with street level retail and hundreds of new housing units can have a dramatic improvement in Towson's downtown core.

While some oppose this project due to fears of inadequate parking or that it will increase congestion, we respectfully disagree. Creating an attractive, urban environment for the growing student population is part of the key to the success of downtown Towson. This project as proposed would help create a vibrant 21st century downtown Towson and greatly benefit the viability of downtown Towson businesses with more residential units in walking distance to shops and restaurants as well as the Towson University campus.

As plans move forward to add more bike lanes, bike parking and a Towson Transit Circulator, it will be important to attract this type of new development that is not automobile-centric. New downtown development with limited parking will actually discourage reliance on private automobile usage and promote walking, biking, Zipcar car sharing and transit usage when those alternative transportation choices are present.

A new study by U.S. PIRG recently featured in the Baltimore Sun ("Technology driving younger generations' shift away from cars, study finds", Oct. 1) highlights this emerging trend, which indicates that younger people, especially educated ones, are looking for other ways to connect and get around without owning cars. New development that attracts young residents who are increasingly looking for these kinds of walkable environments will be a great boost for Towson's economic development while helping to reduce congestion over the long term.

Others have complained that the project would be harmful to the environment because of its proximity to a stream. The fact is that the site is currently in poor environmental condition with no stormwater treatment. The redevelopment will be subject to stringent new stormwater regulations which will clean up the environment within and around this site and actually improve water quality.

Finally, some have argued that rents would be too high in this new development, causing it to fail. There is little evidence to support that claim and ample evidence to show the contrary. New apartments that have come on line in downtown Towson in recent years have leased very well by all accounts, especially upscale ones with on-site amenities. Moreover, because the location of this development will make it convenient for students to live without a car, the annual savings of avoiding costly car ownership will make rent in this upscale new development even more affordable for those who choose to take advantage of this great amenity.

It's time to embrace new market preferences and let downtown Towson flourish as the great destination it has the potential to become.

Michael Bayer, Rodgers Forge

Ryan Cosgrove, Rodgers Forge

Raymond Heil, Loch Hill

Allysha Lorber, Loch Hill

Scott McGovern, Anneslie

Stu Sirota, Rodgers Forge

Diane Wittner, Rodgers Forge

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