Baltimore County's zoning commissioner approved plans Monday for a drive-through Starbucks on York Road to replace the abandoned Crown station at the south end of Towson that has been a thorn in the side of revitalization boosters for years.
Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt allowed the coffeehouse concessions on the number of parking spaces, the size of landscape buffers and other details of zoning law, in part, he wrote, because of the significant benefit Starbucks could provide in economic development.
"The addition of a Starbucks coffee shop on this site will dramatically improve the `gateway to Towson' and should attract other high-quality retail uses to the area," Schmidt wrote.
Even before Starbucks applies for its building permits, though, greater Towson is seeing a flurry of new restaurants.
Construction of a Caribbean-theme restaurant, Bahama Breeze, is nearly complete on the top of the parking garage next to Towson Town Center.
Restaurant company Bob Evans has plans for a restaurant near the intersection of LaSalle and Joppa roads, just outside the downtown area, and the Hooters restaurant chain recently won approval for the transfer of a liquor license at a location a bit farther east on Joppa, said County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat.
Gardina, who has led a revitalization committee that includes community and business groups, said he's particularly excited about Starbucks.
"That gas station was there almost 15 years vacant, and we're taking that gas station and putting it into a use that I think is going to be high-profile," he said. "It just sends a message that revitalization is a real thing that's going to happen and it's not just talk."
Starbucks can now apply for building permits, although the zoning commissioner's decision can be appealed within 30 days.