Burkeshire to get third life as conference center, hotel

June 03, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

The Burkeshire high-rise apartment tower in Towson has two strikes against it.

It failed as a retirement community, prompting Towson State University to buy the building for $16.8 million for use as a student dormitory. But that flopped, too, with nearly 75 percent of the 202 student apartments vacant.

Now Towson State and the Marriott Corp. are hoping to hit a

home run by converting the building into an educational conference center and hotel.

Under a plan approved by the State Board of Public Works yesterday, Marriott will market and manage the Burkeshire for Towson State, taking a 4 percent cut of whatever business it can generate at the 17-story facility near the corner of York Road and Bosley Avenue, officials said.

"If the [business] isn't generated, they get absolutely zero," said David A. Garafola, associate vice president of auxiliary services for Towson State.

But zero isn't what Marriott has in mind, according to Terry Harwood, vice president of the Marriott Conference Centers Division. Mr. Harwood said Marriott plans to tap into the educational conference market, as it has with other university-based conference centers.

One example is the Adult Education Conference Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, he said.

Harwood said that Mariott hopes to attract lodgers to the Burkeshire by booking educational conferences.

Mr. Garafola said that 56 one-and two-bedroom apartments are currently occupied by students. One apartment is occupied by Dr. Hoke L. Smith, president of the university.

Under the plan, half the Burkeshire's 202 apartments will remain as student housing, while the other half will be used for conference center lodgings, Mr. Garafola said. Dr. Smith will retain his apartment.

The ground-level commercial space -- about 21,000 square feet -- will be converted into conference rooms and catering space.

The Burkeshire lacks adequate parking, with only 185 spaces, so Towson State is planning to add 300 spaces to an existing 100-space parking lot across Bosley Avenue, Mr. Garafola said.

Mr. Harwood said Marriott will begin its sales campaign immediately, and the facility should be ready for use after the fall semester begins.

Mr. Garafola said that a group of English professors is already planning a conference at the Burkeshire.

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