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Baltimore County sells tract to Towson Row developer

The Baltimore County Council is expected to give the OK on Monday to selling a plot of county-owned land to the developer of the massive, mixed-use Towson Row development.

The Baltimore County Council approved the sale Monday of a small county-owned parcel to the developer of the mixed-use Towson Row development.

The vacant 0.6-acre parcel will be purchased for $820,000 by Caves Valley Partners. The council approved the sale by a unanimous vote.

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Towson Row is proposed to cover about 7 acres in the heart of Towson near York Road and Towsontown Boulevard, with a 200,000-square-foot office tower, more than 300 apartments, 200 student housing units, a 150-room hotel, a 1,500-space parking garage and more than 100,000 square feet of shops and restaurants anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store.

At 1 million square feet, the project will be as big as the nearby Towson Town Center mall.

Towson Row is currently under review by county development officials, and Caves Valley has begun demolishing existing buildings on the property. Company officials did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The vacant property sits at the edge of the Towson Row footprint. The county tried to sell it in 2008 for $1.95 million to Longwood Development LLC. But Longwood terminated the deal after finding the tract was too difficult to develop. The property includes a historic bridge abutment from the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad — also known as the "Ma and Pa" — that cannot be altered, according to county officials.

After the Longwood deal fell through, the county asked its appraisers to re-evaluate the property, resulting in the $820,000 appraisal.

Amy Grossi, a real estate attorney for the county, said it makes sense to sell to Caves Valley Partners because the county has no use for the parcel and it's not likely that anyone else could successfully develop it.

"They already own everything around it. … For a third party to come in would be completely infeasible," Grossi told council members.

Caves Valley Partners is also leasing from the county a former office building on the property that will be part of Towson Row. When that lease is up later this year, Caves Valley is expected to exercise an option to buy it.

When that lease was signed in 2013, it generated controversy because the county had declined to sell it to a high bidder two years earlier.

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