ANNAPOLIS -- Developers of the $70 million Towson Commons retail and entertainment complex won approval yesterday for the right to obtain liquor licenses from outside the project's election district.
The vote by the Senate sends the amended bill back to the House. The bill's sponsors in the House said they will accept the Senate's changes, ensuring final passage for the legislation.
Without the bill, the developers had said, the project cannot succeed.
The project, by LaSalle Partners of Chicago, will include eight movie theaters, about 40 retail shops, five restaurants, a food court and an office building. It is scheduled to open next year on York Road just east of the county courthouse.
The complex is slated to have five restaurants, but LaSalle was able to secure only two liquor licenses within the election district. The bill would allow three licenses to be transferred into the district from elsewhere in Towson.
But the Senate's Baltimore County delegation added two amendments to the bill, sponsored by Delegate Martha S. Klima, R-Baltimore County. One would allow the restaurants to sell alcohol only until 12:30 a.m., rather than 1:30 a.m., as in the House version; and the other would give the restaurants only two years to exercise the transfer authority.
"We're delighted that they've gone ahead and passed that through," Ms. Klima said. "It was so critical to this $70 million project in the heart of Towson."
Sen. Thomas Bromwell, D-Baltimore County, the head of the county delegation in the Senate, objected to the bill because he said it was another step down a path of creating too many hybrid liquor licenses.
The licenses in the bill require 65 percent of the restaurants' gross receipts to come from sales of food, rather than the established 51 percent, and limit the size of the bars in the restaurants.