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Towson Times: Construction Under Way at Long-Debated Burke Avenue Tract in Towson

February 09, 2011

Project will include mix of assisted living, townhouses

The vast field east of York Road that stretches from Burke Avenue to Linden Terrace soon will be sprouting more than weeds and overgrown grass.

The Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Group has begun work on the 10-acre tract slated for Brightview Towson, a 90-bed, assisted-living facility fronting on Burke Avenue; and Towson Green, a neighborhood of 121 new, four-bedroom townhouses with its main entrance on Towsontown Boulevard.

"Weather has slowed their progress," said Ed Kilcullen of the Towson Manor Village Community Association.

Kilcullen, who has served as a point man between the developer and the community association, said, "Every day, they have been out there shoveling, and pretty soon they are going to have to be blasting rock."

Currently, construction crews are working on sediment control and preparing ground for a road within the development between York Road and Maryland Avenue, he said.

Andrew Teeters, development director for the Shelter Group, which is building the Brightview component, said this week that work at the site is a prelude to construction that will begin in earnest in April.

The Brightview project, estimated to cost about $10 million, is projected for a May 2012 opening, Teeters said.

The Towson Green segment will have townhouses starting in the mid-$300,000s, according to company officials. By March, Bozzuto hopes to have a sales office with a display of modular units and floor plans.

Construction will be performed in phases and is expected to last three to four years.

Kilcullen said he expects the project to be an asset to the neighborhood.

Although it's a vacant field now, it once was the site of 29 houses, many of them stately, that had fallen into disrepair after investors purchased and altered them to rent to college students for the maximum return.

The tract could have been the site of 350 condominiums and townhouses if the Bob Ward Cos., which initially purchased the land and razed the houses, had won approval for its 2006 plan.

But opposition to that led Ward to sell to Bozzuto, which scaled down the original proposal and has worked with representatives of the surrounding community to address concerns about parking, traffic and other matters.

Bozzuto has been cooperative, said Kilcullen.

"We've had a good working relationship for more than two years," he said.

The Shelter Group has also met with the community and made changes in its initial plans, including changing the front of its building on Burke Avenue to resemble townhouses.

When it comes to parking, the assisted-living facility will have a parking lot with 45 spaces, according to Teeters.

He has said the assisted-living facility will accommodate "a pent-up demand in Towson."

His company has been looking for a site in Towson for more than three years, he said.

The townhouses will have more than 200 parking spaces -- in garages that residents will access from an alley to the rear of the units -- some with aprons to provide extra parking, and 92 street spaces, according to plans presented to the county by Clark Wagner, vice president of Bozzuto Homes.

Wagner could not be reached for comment this week, but previously expressed confidence that the area's housing market was "stabilizing."

Paul Hartman, president of the Aigburth Manor Community Association, is glad to see action at the site and said he's looking forward to seeing the plan come to fruition.

After years of the property being a vacant lot, Hartman thinks the project will increase property values.