Towson University plans to purchase Charles Schwab Building to relocate administrative offices

Towson University plans to buy the Charles Schwab Building in downtown Towson for around $7.5 million to move some administrative offices off campus, according to the Board of Public Works agenda for July 3.

The building, which is a half a mile north from the main campus at 401 Washington Ave., is near a number of county government offices as well as the Towson Armory, another university building project.

“Right location, right property, right price,” said Sean Welsh, a Towson University spokesman, about the anticipated purchase.

The 130,000-square-foot tower could partially relieve a 300,000-square-foot shortage of space the university is experiencing due to its growing student population, Welsh said.

“The university has a shortage of space to serve the students adequately,” he said.

The undergraduate population has seen an 8% increase from 2008-2018, while the overall student population has grown by 9%, according to Towson University’s Common Data Set. Currently, the university has just under 23,000 students but plans to cap enrollment at 25,000 before 2024.

The purchase of the building at Washington and Chesapeake avenues could replace an existing lease at 1 Olympic Place, where the university houses some administrative staff. It also provides 60,000 square feet of space to relocate offices, freeing up campus space for academic programs and student centers.

The Maryland Board of Public Works, which includes Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Copp, is scheduled to vote on the building’s purchase at its next meeting on July 3.

The $7.5 million acquisition is one of a string of expansion efforts by the university in recent years. In addition to the recently announced armory project, a $180 million science complex is under construction along York Road and due to be completed in 2020. It converted a Marriott hotel in owned adjacent to its campus on Bosley Road into student housing.

Although there’s been some previous debate concerning the university’s rapid growth in the neighborhood, County Councilman David Marks said, “overall, in the past decade, Towson University has had a stronger relationship with community members.”

Bringing academic functions into the heart of Towson and increasing foot traffic in the downtown area will help local business, said Marks, a Republican who represents Towson.

“It’s a welcomed development,” Marks said. “It’s one of the reasons that downtown Towson is prospering.”

Nancy Hafford, director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, also welcomes the possible expansion.

“The university needs a great town, and the students and the faculty and staff support our business community,” Hafford said.

If the building is approved for purchase, administrative offices that rarely interact with students will be considered for the move, while student-facing departments will remain on the main campus, Welsh said.

“This purchase will not bring us to where we need to be,” Welsh said. “But it reflects on the momentum and growth of our university.”

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