Forum set tonight for Towson project

August 22, 2006|By LAURA BARNHARDT | LAURA BARNHARDT,SUN REPORTER

The developers of a proposed 380-unit apartment complex called The Promenade promise that the project will be unlike anything else in Towson.

But some residents say they're worried that the project could exacerbate problems familiar to Towson, such as traffic congestion and insufficient open space.

Others welcome the upscale project that they hope will draw urban professionals to the area.

A community input meeting on the proposal is set for 7 p.m. tonight in the Towson Library.

Hanover Co., a Houston-based developer, wants to build the complex at York and Lambourne roads on 5.3 acres north of the Prospect Hill Cemetery. The project would include three interior courtyards and a 10,000-square- foot clubhouse with a movie screening room, gym and Internet cafe.

Designers plan a brick-and-stucco facade, said Brandt Bowden, a development partner for Hanover Co., which also built The Crescent at Fells Point, a 252-unit apartment complex along the water, which is the company's closest completed project.

"It's indicative of the type of developers we are," Bowden said at a meeting last week with neighborhood leaders. "We're an architecture-driven company."

Plans call for sections of varying heights to accommodate the existing downhill topography, he said. And the apartments would be "spectacular," with hardwood floors, arches, granite countertops, custom cabinetry in bathrooms and kitchens, and stainless steel appliances, he said.

Rent for a one-bedroom apartment likely would be about $1,600, Bowden said. Two-bedroom units would go for about $2,000, he said. Although about 70 percent of the units would be one-bedroom apartments, there also would be a few three-bedroom apartments, he said.

The 672 parking spaces - 1.77 for each unit - would be located in a seven-story garage inside the complex with two points of entrance to have a "dissipating effect" on traffic, Bowden said.

Developers will seek a variance in set-back requirements, meaning the project would be closer to the street than county regulations allow. By doing so, the Promenade would be more pedestrian-friendly, said Bowden. "I know that sounds somewhat counterintuitive," he said, adding that company studies have shown that a narrow strip of green along the sidewalk is less inviting to pedestrians.

Hanover Co. also would request a waiver of the county's regulations on the amount of open space required for use by tenants. The project would lack about 1.3 acres of required open space, company officials said.

But Mike Ertel, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, said he doesn't anticipate many residents having a problem with the project's open space.

"This isn't a developer taking over a farm or a cornfield for that matter," said Ertel. "This is already in a urban area. There's no green space there now. And we will get some green back with the proposed project, not just the weeds growing through the asphalt that's there now."

Herb Shankroff, who lives in the nearby Towson Park neighborhood, said he had been concerned that the project could create a glut of rental units in the area, but said the developers have assured community groups that most of the apartments in the area are rented.

"I'm very impressed with the plans," said Shankroff, president of the Towson Park Community Corp. "I think it's going to be a real asset to the community."

If approved, construction on the complex would begin in the spring.

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

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