After a decade of vacancy and years of planning on behalf of Caves Valley Partners — owners of Towson City Center — the building that once grew moldy and stagnant has emerged as a beacon of development in downtown Towson.
"You always try to plan on it turning out well, but sometimes even reality passes your expectations," said Arsh Mirmiran, director of development for Caves Valley Partners, after Thursday's grand opening of MileOne Automotive's corporate headquarters inside Towson City Center.
"We always thought it was going to be an exciting building, but when everyone else sees it and decides they want to move in, it's rewarding," Mirmiran said.
The Aug. 2 event, which featured County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Fifth District County Councilman David Marks and other dignitaries, celebrated not only the $27 million public-private partnership that transformed the building from eyesore to eye-catching landmark, but also of the impact the 500 employees could bring to downtown Towson.
MileOne has already moved into its office space, as has Caves Valley Partners, which shares MileOne's executive level on the 12th floor.
Towson University's Institute for Well Being, which includes its Center for Adults with Autism, Occupational Therapy Center, Speech, Language and Hearing Center and Wellness Center, is also completed, though Mirmiran said the university's four floors are quiet, with students home for the summer.
Even so, Mirmiran said he's already gotten used to seeing familiar faces from MileOne out around downtown Towson after the noontime lunch rush out of the building.
He said they're "go-out-to-lunch people," meaning that every day, especially while the weather is nice, downtown Towson restaurants are already reaping the benefits of the building.
Mirmiran said he had a business breakfast at Towson Hot Bagels recently, and has fallen in love with a Vietnamese restaurant on York Road that he walked past many times and finally decided to try.
"I never would have gone if I was just visiting Towson," he said. "You just end up trying places you would have always tried."
With MileOne's headquarters completed, there are plenty of employees who will be getting to know Towson better as well.
One floor is full of accountants who had been in each of the company's 35 Mid-Atlantic dealerships, but now have work space in one central location.
Another, the 11th floor, is full of sleek fixtures and painted to be a conducive environment for the 20-somethings in MileOne's marketing department.
But on the top floor, the 12th, the long conference rooms and plush executive offices of MileOne and Caves Valley Partners are indicative of a top-class business headquarters.
Or as Kamenetz said in his statement on the opening: "Downtown Towson and Towson City Center deliver the dynamic business community, convenience and amenities that meet the needs of MileOne and the creative people who work at their headquarters."
At the opening, officials announced that every floor of the 12-story building was leased.
Remedi SeniorCare, a company described on its website as a provider of pharmaceuticals to long-term care patients, recently signed a lease for one vacant floor, while Mirmiran said a law firm had agreed to lease another, though the lease had not yet been signed.
Other announced tenants, such as the Bagby Restaurant Group's new Cunningham's eatery, are farther from completion. Cunningham's, which will feature patio seating and a space inside the restaurant where diners can see their food prepared, is still in the early stages of construction.
Additionally, WTMD, the Towson University radio station, is scheduled to being construction soon, Mirmiran said.
At a recent meeting of the Greater Towson Committee, WTMD General Manager Stephen Yasko said the station's space will contain studios and a 1,300-square-foot performance space, as well as a scrolling ticker outside the building off Dulaney Valley Road.
Marks, who passed a piece of legislation to allow that signage, said the building is magnificent.
"Symbolically, it signals the rebirth of downtown Towson, and economically, it will bring hundreds of people into the core," Marks said.