When the snow and ice this winter forced most Towsonites to hunker down at home, Ryan Higgins, his wife April Asuncion Higgins, and their 9-year-old son Ryan took a short walk to Barnes & Noble to avoid cabin fever. During the Towsontown Spring Festival, the family lost no time searching for a parking space. They simply walked out their front door and found themselves steps away from the festivities.
The convenience of "urban" living was just part of the appeal that made Higgins and his family ditch their single-family home in North Baltimore for a different style of living in Towson. "We always thought about condo-style living. With one child, it's easy to do," Asuncion Higgins said. "This complex drew us because it was a green building, and the amenities were hard to pass up."
The family lives at the Palisades, a luxury apartment complex on Washington Avenue in downtown Towson. The high-end, environmentally-friendly apartment building . The complex's convenience, luxury amenities, and community feel have made it a big hit among renters. Its potential to lend economic vibrancy to downtown Towson during "off-business" hours is making it popular among local business officials.
The Palisades is a shining example of the recent push to increase residential offerings in central Towson. Within the past four years, more than 1,600 residential units have been erected within walking distance to downtown Towson. Already, the 18-story, luxury apartment home community has leased 85 percent of its 357 units, and expects to be at 100 percent by June.
"We've exceeded the expectations of our owner and the management company," said Georgia Glattly, property manager for the Palisades.
Part of the attraction is the complex's amenities which include a business center with computers, printers, copiers and fax machines; a heated roof-top pool; fitness center with complementary yoga classes and personal trainer; a community room with a big-screen TV, Wii and billiards table; one of the nation's few automated parking garages, and more. Monthly rentals run between $1,475 and $2,440, and include all utilities.
The Higgins' observe that this model of convenient luxury living has attracted a variety of residents: graduate students, business professionals, small families (the building offers studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments), retirees, and everyone in between.
"There are people from every single place you could think of—Thailand, Korea, India, the Middle East," Higgins said. He and his wife agree that living at the Palisades promotes a sense of community. They've met people in the lobby, the mail room, the game room, and at the pool. Some residents socialize together, inviting their kids to one another's apartments and sometimes sharing meals together at restaurants within walking distance.
This latter activity is what business officials eagerly predicted about the apartment building’s residents.
"These types of projects are probably the most important thing for the core of Towson. We've got a lot of 9-to-5ers here. This [apartment complex] brings people who stay during off-hours and on weekends," said Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce.
The Palisades doesn't just serve as an economy booster; it's also a good neighbor. Hafford notes that the luxury apartment complex allows the business community to reserve space in its community room for meetings and related events. In fact, she recently attended a wrap-up meeting following the Towsontown Spring Festival at the Palisades.
Hafford hopes to see more residential growth in central Towson similar to the Palisades. "We could really use a new condo project," she said, suggesting that the Suntrust Bank building, up for auction later this May, would be a prime location for such a project.
Until another luxury apartment or condominium complex appears on the horizon, the Palisades will continue to bask in the limelight of its success.
"It's not what you'd expect to find here. It looks like an upscale New York apartment building,” Hafford said. “It's a real jewel in our town.”