Towson's partnership for growth Business leaders plan downtown renewal effort

November 08, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Calling Towson a sleeping giant, business leaders gathered yesterday at Goucher College to explore ways to promote its attractions and stimulate a sluggish downtown area.

"If the core crumbles, we all will crumble," said John F. Harrington, a Towson real estate broker. "If everyone gets together, we can get synergy."

Many at the meeting expressed hope that the proposed redevelopment of the former Hutzler's building, sidewalk and facade improvements, and construction of a traffic circle, or roundabout, will create interest in the central business district.

"Things are starting to turn around," Harrington said. "But we do have problems, and that's what we've got to take care of right now."

Over the years, several shops have gone out of business or moved, leaving empty storefronts along York Road. Merchants often have blamed the lack of street parking for declining business.

"What hurts is parking," said Lawrence Taubman, a general partner with Taubman Properties Limited Partnership, which operates Dulaney Plaza shopping center. "We need to find solutions, so retail will be more successful downtown."

To guide the growth of central Towson, Towson Partnership -- a group of civic, business, government and academic officials formed to promote the county seat -- developed an unofficial land-use map for the heart of Towson.

"It's a vision for the future," said Harrington, a member of the Towson Partnership, which sponsored yesterday's program.

But, despite the troubles of a few blocks in Towson, the group of almost two dozen community members -- representing hospitals, universities, shopping complexes, homeowners, churches and Realtors -- that met yesterday found much to praise about Towson.

They cited its shopping, restaurants and theaters, and such famous institutions as Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital and the world headquarters of Black & Decker Corp.

To promote Towson more, participants agreed to meet again in a smaller group and set priorities.

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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