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Towson University signs agreement with 101 York Road developer for off-campus student housing

Aspen Heights, a 14-story mixed-use building to be used for student housing nears completion at 101 York Road.
Aspen Heights, a 14-story mixed-use building to be used for student housing nears completion at 101 York Road. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

Aspen Heights Towson, an off-campus student housing project near Towson University once challenged by local community associations is now open to students as the university restricts the number of on-campus housing options in the coronavirus pandemic.

Under a one-year master lease, the 611-bedroom complex, managed by Texas-based developer Aspen Heights, solely will house Towson students, whose rental options range from a studio apartment and a single bedroom in a four-person apartment to a one- or two-bedroom suite, each with a private bathroom.

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Students at Aspen Heights will be on the same floors with resident assistants and a residence life coordinator, according to a news release.

The addition of off-campus student housing is even more necessary as higher education institutions reckon with what the coronavirus pandemic means for the upcoming academic year, said County Councilman David Marks, who represents the Towson area.

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Towson University has given professors the option to hold classes remotely or on campus, and all classes post-Thanksgiving break will be held remotely. Approximately 85% of classes will be held remotely in the fall, including hybrid classes of virtual and in-person instruction, said Matt Palmer, director of Towson University media relations.

Final numbers on student enrollment for the fall semester were not available Thursday, Palmer said. Last year, approximately 23,000 students were enrolled.

The college is expecting to house 3,500 residential students on campus in residence halls when the fall term begins — “approximately 50% of our on-campus housing capacity prior to the pandemic,” Palmer said.

Between Aspen Heights Towson and Towson Row, which is also offering housing to students, “these projects are absorbing students who otherwise would’ve been scattered throughout neighborhoods,” Marks said.

Towson Row, a $350 million mixed-use development of commercial space and housing bounded by York Road, Towsontown Boulevard and Washington and Chesapeake avenues, announced last month that it was opening to students.

The two projects are part of $1.7 billion in private and public development underway within a quarter mile of the university’s campus: There’s also Circle East and Towson Row, Towson Mews, Towson Station and a new Science Complex on Towson’s campus, all part of a broader plan to more closely connect the university with the surrounding community.

But community members in the past opposed the Aspen Heights Towson project at several steps, exhausting an appeals process until the project was approved by a county administrative law judge in 2015.

The project was first proposed in 2013 by a Towson-based developer as a planned unit development, colloquially known as 101 York, before that developer sold the land and building to Aspen Heights in 2018 for more than $26 million, according to online property records.

Community members had contended students would park in residential areas without sufficient garage parking and disrupt neighborhoods.

Aspen Heights Towson is a 14-floor building with 494 parking spaces in an underground garage, said associate property manager Kyle Bell. Ten-month leasing contracts for 533 students already have been signed, and the move-in date is set for Aug. 22, he said.

Bedrooms range from $999 — the cost of a single bedroom in a four-person, 1,100-square foot apartment — to the pricier 522-square-foot one-bedroom that can be leased for $1,699, according to the apartment complex’s website.

The master lease agreement with an independent property management company is Towson’s second. The university also has an agreement with Capstone On Campus Management, which oversees three on-campus residence halls: Paca and Tubman houses and Millennium Hall.

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Students interested in applying for housing at Aspen Heights can do so through the student housing gateway. Students who are 21 and older with junior or senior status will have priority, and all those whose leases are executed through the school will be billed to their student bursar account, according to the university.

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