Towson student housing project 101 York sold to Texas-based developer

After a long, contentious approval process, the developers of planned Towson student housing complex 101 York have sold the project to a Texas-based developer.

Towson-based DMS Development sold the project to student housing developer Aspen Heights on Aug. 31, according to property records.

“It has been a long process,” said Wendy Crites, executive director of DMS Development. “And we decided that it was time to focus on some newer projects, and decided to let this one go.”

Todd Gaines, vice president for development at Aspen Heights, said construction is currently underway and on track to be complete by the summer of 2020.

“We’re very excited to be a part of the community, and we’re looking forward to leasing to some great students,” Gaines said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Crites and Gaines both declined to comment on the price of the sale. Online property records show that the land transferred for more than $26 million – by contrast, records say DMS bought the land in late 2005 for slightly more than $1 million.

First proposed in 2013, a planned unit development proposal for 101 York was approved by a county administrative law judge in 2015. The PUD proposed 611 beds, 494 parking spaces, and 9,300 square feet of commercial space, according to online records. The proposed number of stories, beds and parking spaces changed multiple times throughout the approval process as DMS sparred with community groups.

The Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, an umbrella group of neighborhood associations, opposed the project, and appealed the judge’s decision in court in 2015. In March 2018, the group, now called Towson Communities Alliance, exhausted its appeals when the Maryland Court of Appeals declined to hear the case, leaving the approval in place.

After winning the appeals process, Crites said DMS received some “good offers” to buy 101 York and “decided to refocus our energy.”

Aspen Heights had been looking at the Towson market and “admiring from afar,” Gaines said, seeing opportunity in the growth of nearby Towson University.

Gaines said Aspen Heights seeks out opportunities like 101 York because it is working hard to build its management portfolio. Currently, the company manages about 18,000 beds nationwide, from California to New York, in big cities like Atlanta and in small college towns, too, he said.

Now that 101 York has been sold, the PUD approval will transfer with the sale, said Patrick Williams, a project manager in Baltimore County’s Development Management department.

Aspen Heights plans to move forward with the project DMS designed, Gaines said. The plans that were approved are for an 11-story building over two above-ground parking garage levels, with street-level retail and two underground garage levels, he said.

The company will put its own touches on it later with interior design and amenities. It will also manage the property, he said.

Paul Hartman, an Aigburth Manor resident, was president of the neighborhood group when 101 York was first proposed and is still an active member. He said if the plans for 101 York are still the same under the new owners, Towson Community Alliance still takes issue with the project.

Hartman said he does not think the plans include enough parking, which he worries will prompt students to park in residential neighborhoods like nearby Burkleigh Square. He is also concerned about students living so close to residential areas, saying they are likely to walk through residential streets making noise.

“All of those problems are still there,” Hartman said.

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