Towson Toys R Us store gains reprieve It agrees to comply with 'residential look'

November 07, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Santa should be able to shop at Toys R Us at Towson Marketplace this season after all, while Baltimore County and company officials iron out differences about the store's controversial facade.

At a closed-door meeting yesterday, Toys R Us representatives agreed to submit architectural drawings to the county within two weeks to comply with development plans that call for a "residential look" at the shopping center at Putty Hill Avenue, Joppa Road and Goucher Boulevard.

The company's move forestalls action by the center's developer, Florida-based Talisman Co., which had threatened to revoke the store's occupancy permit during the busy toy season if it did not comply with the development plans.

"We had no idea we were not in compliance," John Faltings, director of architecture for Paramus, N.J.-based Toys R Us, said after the meeting yesterday. "We try to take a prototype look and make it comply with zoning orders."

Toys R Us representatives attended the meeting with county officials yesterday because the company, not the developer, obtained the building permits for the store.

The recently remodeled store -- part of a $30 million renovation of the 40-year-old former mall -- came under scrutiny recently when the county Department of Permits and Development Management received complaints about the exterior's red pillars, brightly hued letters and expanse of glass.

"It's a bit atrocious," said Leon Rozankowski, who has lived in nearby Knettishall for 41 years. "It doesn't match the neighborhood or the colonial look promised."

The development plans for Towson Marketplace, which were approved in a county zoning order, include sketches of the new center with a masonry-and-brick Georgian exterior that includes cupolas and gables.

The dispute comes at a time when the county is trying to control clutter along its roads.

A law enacted last month bans most roof signs, pennants and portable signs, and freezes the number of billboards throughout the county.

This week, three Exxon stations had to remove temporary 20-foot promotional balloons after county inspectors found them in violation.

The county permits department had given Talisman until yesterday to come up with a plan to change the Toys R Us exterior.

In turn, Talisman took a tough stance against its tenant, threatening to act unless Toys R Us complied with development plans.

"Towson Marketplace will have no alternative [but] to declare a default in the terms of your lease," Talisman President James A. Schlesinger wrote in a letter dated Monday. "Your failure to resolve this matter may also result in the revoking of your use and occupancy permit during the critical Christmas selling period."

John B. Gontrum, an attorney representing Talisman, said yesterday that the developer was requesting a zoning hearing.

"We're looking for a public hearing before the deputy zoning commissioner to discuss what we're doing with the rest of the center," Gontrum said. "We don't want to reinvent the wheel all the time."

Arnold Jablon, director of the planning department, said he was confident that "Toys R Us and Talisman want to work it out. We want to get this resolved as soon as possible."

When completed next fall, the 675,000-square-foot Towson Marketplace will include a Target store, a Sports Authority, a TJ Maxx, a Frugal Fannie, a Michael's Arts and Crafts, a Petsmart, a Super Fresh and three unspecified restaurants, in addition to Marshall's, Montgomery Ward and Toys R Us, the current anchors.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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