The developer of The Flats, a 105-unit, market-rate apartment building planned in Towson, has agreed to pay $150,000 in open space waiver fees, not $5,000, as previously proposed.
Under the terms of a settlement brokered by Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, the developer, Federal Realty Investment Trust, will pay 60 percent of the fees to the county government and 40 percent to the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations.
The deal comes as the county council prepares to vote Dec. 21 on a bill introduced by Marks that would require developers of residential projects in downtown Towson to pay $2,000 per unit in open space waiver fees unless they create open space as part of the projects.
Many developers have complained that they lack the space to do so in downtown Towson.
With more than $1 billion in private investment in Towson's redevelopment since 2009 -- which includes 2,700 completed and proposed townhomes and apartments -- many are looking for the funding necessary to provide more open space in Towson to accommodate that growth.
By Jordan Branch
Aug 06, 2015 | 2:32 PM
Projects already in the pipeline as part of the county's approval process would get a discount, being required to pay 70 percent of the full open space fees. For Federal Realty, it's a savings of $60,000, because they would have to pay $210,000 if The Flats, planned at 703 Washington Ave., was not already in the pipeline, Marks said.
"The numbers in the settlement mirror where I was going with the bill," Marks said Dec. 11.
The terms of the agreement were announced at a Dec. 8 hearing about the project before county Administrative Law Judge John Beverungen. A ruling on whether to approve the project is expected next week, his office said.
"The settlement clearly makes it easier for passage," Marks said.
The county's Design Review Committee has recommended changing several elements of the project, including minimizing signage at the community's request. The committee must review all residential projects in downtown Towson, under a bill by Marks that the council passed earlier this year.
Towson's Patriot Plaza -— an underused park with a leaky fountain near the Baltimore County government office building — is getting a multimillion-dollar makeover, and officials are floating the idea of an outdoor ice rink.
Joshua Glikin, a Towson attorney who represented a third party at the administrative law hearing, said his client is satisfied with the financial agreement. Glikin said he represented a Towson resident who was concerned that developers are paying too little in open space waiver fees for their projects .
"He felt (developers) were being too easily guided through the county system in an area that's lacking in open space and has overcrowded schools," Glikin said.
The resident could not be reached for comment, but Glikin said his client hopes that the Towson Recreation Council will receive some of the fees for program improvements and equipment.
As first reported last year, The Flats, bounded by West Joppa Road, Washington Avenue and York Road, would have a clubhouse space, bike racks and a rooftop deck.
Federal Realty Investment Trust is developing the downtown Towson property bounded by West Joppa Road, Washington Avenue and York Road. The L-shaped building envelops the SunTrust Bank branch at the same block.
The complex, formerly referred to as 627 York Road, would have rents from $1,300 for a one-bedroom to $1,900 for some two-bedroom apartments. The building would have five floors of apartments and two floors of parking for 103 total vehicles. Cars assigned to park on the top floor would enter from Washington Avenue, while cars assigned to the bottom floor would enter on West Joppa Road.
The roof deck planned for the project would include a gazebo, water feature, seating and elevator access. Street level features, including landscaping, bike racks and benches, would be in keeping with the rest of the downtown core, project planner Hank Alinger, of Bohler Engineering, said last year.