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Towson Patch: Developers Break Ground on Burke Avenue Townhouses

February 15, 2011

A long-awaited residential project on the edge of Towson Manor Village is finally underway, transforming a long-neglected tract of real estate that once housed rental homes for Towson University students into more than 100 high-end townhouses.

The Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Group is behind the Towson Green project, which broke ground in January and is slated for completion in 2014.

The 121 townhouses in the development will each cost upwards of $300,000. The new development runs parallel to York Road, from Susquehanna Avenue in the north to Burke Avenue in the south.

Towson Green, a $40 million project, is the latest large-scale residential development to sprout up in Towson in the last several years, joining recently-opened properties like The Promenade, on York Road, and the Palisades apartment complex on Washington Avenue.

All three are targeted toward higher-income residents. In Towson Green's case, that's a different kind of clientele than the college students and other renters who were there before and who rent homes just on the other side of Burke Avenue, in the Burkleigh Square neighborhood.

"I think we need more quality projects for the empty nesters and the people that want to retire," said Nancy Hafford, executive director for the Towson Chamber of Commerce.

Clark Wagner, vice president of development for Bozzuto, said the company was attracted to the area's potential.

"Towson, historically, has sort of been the place to be in Baltimore County, from the standpoint of the higher-quality retail and education locations," he said. "We've always been really high on Towson."

Bozzuto also owns the Woodbrook on Charles development on North Charles Street in Towson and the Fitzgerald apartments in Mount Vernon.

The 9.2-acre development has been a long time coming. Houses that once stood there were often over-rented and under-maintained. Owners rented to more students than zoning code would typically allow to live under the same roof.

"The community had been trying to get Code Enforcement to actually enforce the code… and (the houses) became run down," recalled Paul Hartman, the president of Aigburth Manor Community Association.

After property owners failed in a 2003 attempt to change the zoning on the area to 16 units per acre, they sold the property to Bozzuto in 2006. After a two-year planning process, Bozzuto put the brakes on the project in 2008, when the national real estate market collapsed. For several years, the space lay dormant.

"I'm just glad that we're going to actually see something there and that it will be productive space rather than just weeds," he said.

In addition to Towson Green, the Shelter Group is building a 90-bed assisted living facility nearby.

The name "Towson Green" isn't just for show—eco-friendly features are a centerpiece of the development's design. Wagner pointed to three main factors: proximity to central Towson, a rain garden on the grounds and energy-efficient design.

All the homes in the development are Energy Star-certified and carry a silver certification as green buildings from the National Association of Home Builders, Wagner said. In addition, some recycled materials are being used in the construction.

The energy-efficient design helped Bozzuto qualify for lucrative tax credits, and Wagner said homeowners at Towson Green can expect "between 30 and 40 percent lower utility costs" and lower property tax bills.

"Buyers will get a direct benefit on that," he said. "It certainly did make our project go over quite well internally."

Though the whole project won't be complete for another three years, Wagner said the company is building and selling as they go. Model homes will be available to check out this fall.

Hartman said Bozzuto has been "forthcoming" with their plans and has held multiple community meetings long before shovels hit the ground.

"That's the way that development should be done," he said.