Plans for Towson retirement project revived

Firm again looks at site where apartments stand

January 30, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Plans to build a retirement community on a prime piece of land in downtown Towson are back on track.

Erickson Retirement Communities, which operates Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville and Oak Crest Village in Parkville, is again interested in buying a 14-acre triangle that is the site of the Dulaney Valley Apartments.

Two months ago, Erickson had a contract on the property but withdrew it after deciding to use Oak Crest Village to house seniors from the Towson area. However, the company met privately with community leaders last week and expressed renewed interest in the property at Fairmount Avenue and Dulaney Valley Road.

"That sits in a tremendous location to serve seniors in Baltimore County," said Danny O'Brien, Erickson vice president of operations for new communities.

Two months ago, Erickson proposed 14-story high-rise apartments for the site. The latest plan has been scaled back and involves two eight-story buildings containing a total of 773 units, O'Brien said.

The Dulaney Valley Apartments are owned by the family of John K. Ruff. His daughter, Mary Ellen Ruff Brush, manages the property, which includes 59 two-story buildings. An attorney representing the family said yesterday that it considers an Erickson development a good fit for the site.

"Erickson is one of numerous people we are negotiating with," said the attorney, David D. Downes of Towson. "There are others interested in it."

Last year, the nonprofit Towson Development Corp. termed redevelopment of the site - just northwest of Towson Town Center - as critical to its plans to revitalize downtown Towson.

Community leaders who heard last week's presentation were glad to see Erickson renewing its interest.

"In my mind, it would be a tremendous addition for Towson," said Conrad Poniatowski, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations.

County Councilman Wayne M. Skinner said he had encouraged Erickson to reconsider.

"I'm glad to see them coming back and taking another look," said Skinner, a Towson Republican.

Gerald R. Rescigno, president of the Towson Development Corp., agreed.

"We are optimistic about it," Rescigno said. "We would be happy with Erickson coming in and doing a senior type of center."

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