For nearly two hours Thursday night, Baltimore County and developer Caves Valley Partners representatives listened to community concerns and answered questions about parking, pedestrian access and the design of a proposed development at York Road and Bosley Avenue in Towson.
Caves Valley lawyer David Karceski, of Venable LLC, announced that the land, previously owned by the county, transferred to Caves Valley Thursday.
The developer presented two plans for Towson Station: One for a fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru and one for a drive-in bank.
Each plan also includes space for retailers, some already set to move in, according to a pamphlet by retail brokerage firm H&R Retail. The development, if approved, would include a Mission BBQ restaurant and a Men’s Wearhouse retail clothier.
The meeting, at the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center in Towson, was the next step in the development process for the project, originally proposed as Towson Gateway.
Gateway drew fire from community members who opposed Caves Valley’s original plan for a Royal Farms convenience store and gas station. They cited concerns about pollution and traffic congestion. Community advocates also protested when the county cut down dozens of trees on the property in April 2017, calling it “tree-gate.”
Caves Valley signed a covenant with the community in January agreeing not to put a gas station on the site. But if the revised proposal is not approved, the company could go back to pursuing the Royal Farms development.
The county reached a deal in March to sell the property to Caves Valley for $6.9 million. Demolition of an old fire station on the land is underway.
About 30 people attended the meeting, voicing concerns about traffic and pedestrian access at the intersection. People said they were concerned that motorists would cut through the development to avoid the intersection, putting pedestrians at risk.
“There just seems to be an inherent unnecessary danger to pedestrians,” said resident Scott Hall. He said the developer should institute pedestrian entryways that do not requires them to cross entrances for cars.
Others voiced safety concerns about the entrance to the property on York Road, which as planned would not have a traffic light.
Other concerns were about aesthetics, as residents said the development looked more like a typical strip mall than a walkable, urban development.
“It’s just so average,” Towson resident Mark Lee told the developers, contrasting the design to popular new commercial developments in Baltimore, such as Woodberry Kitchen and R. House. “I think all of us are fine with some kind of inspired commerce … this is just so underwhelming to us.”
Lee said after the meeting that he does not want Towson to become the “Ritchie Highway of the north.”
“Bring in the commercial space, we’re fine with that,” Lee said. “But make it look cool.”