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You Tell Us: What Would You Do to Improve Downtown Towson?

Recent articles about committees, studies and proposals got us wondering.

Downtown Towson is on the move. But which direction is it going? The vacant properties tell a bleak story of a business center beset with recessionary woes. Public officials tell a different, optimistic picture of the area's future. 

Community and business leaders alike hailed the of Councilman David Marks to look at options for the underdeveloped Towson Triangle. Area officials are to create a commercial district for Towson.

Many of these proposals are the fruits of years of planning, panels and studies. But we want to know what you think.

If you ran Towson, what would you do to encourage development and boost economic activity?

Post your ideas in the comment thread below.

DCMerkle July 18, 2011 at 09:12 PM
Towson has many different kinds of people that live in Towson from all of the different socioeconomic backgrounds. The one thing that I noticed is that there has been one group in Towson that was left off of the current Towson Directory's demographics. That was the disabled, across the board for Social Characteristics and for Economic Characteristics the info for families below poverty levels and individuals below poverty levels was left blank. Is Towson trying to ignore them? The disabled, families, and individuals that live below the poverty levels are just as much a part of Towson as anyone else. Maybe they don't have the extra money in their budgets to spend in the high end businesses in Towson all the time, but they spend what they have when they have it in and around the core of Towson and at the mall. It would be nice if they were taken into consideration as part of the population of Towson as well.
TWalt July 18, 2011 at 09:25 PM
I know this has been proposed but we should model Towson after some of the more successful pedestrian friendly outdoor shopping areas. 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA is the perfect example. Close off Chesapeake and Pennsylvania to traffic from Washington to York and build a few more parking garages. Quality merchants will follow.
johnny towson July 18, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Get the buses off of York road.
Larry Hankin July 18, 2011 at 09:41 PM
I have lived in Towson for the past 10 years and have noticed the marked increase in vacancies on York Road and Chesapeake Avenue. Towson needs to somehow attract new merchants to fill the many vacancies. One business that Central Towson really needs is a pharmacy. The closest one is the CVS on Fairmount Avenue.
Ann Greenbaum July 18, 2011 at 10:25 PM
I would love to see a pedestrian and bicycle friendly York Road in Towson, lined with green space and, ideally, blocked off from traffic, or at most permitting one way traffic. This would INCREASE activity in the area by making Towson a community where people can shop and mingle leisurely and pleasurably. Parking is not convenient currently and walking is not safe. Many people would like to see Complete Streets, accessible to all including the disabled, and with the assisted living and elderly housing being built this will be needed soon. Also, the Towson students will be frequenting the area more and more, and more pathways will help reduce congestion.
Not A. Chance July 18, 2011 at 11:10 PM
I would eliminate all public bus service and enforce the no pan handling laws at the intersections which the cops refuse to do.
Neversure July 18, 2011 at 11:28 PM
I just love these ideas! On a recent Sunday at about 1130 a.m., I drove through Downtown Towson to drop off a letter at the mailbox, and proceed to the Health Concern. Talk about deserted! But, I also saw a young family: Mom. Dad, 2 kids on tandem bikes, numerous other bicyclists and joggers enjoying the beauty of the new Washington Ave streetscaping, the grounds of the old courthouse, and the quiet in general. Could we possibly route as much traffic as possible to the bypass, and leave the streets of the downtown area for pedestrians and deliveries? That's the way they do it in Europe. The tiny streets in Towson's inner "city" are perfect for this. The walk from the parking to the destination is 4 blocks at most; generous (and cheap) parking at the east and west ends, shopping, markets and bistros in the middle! Oh what a dream.
Not A. Chance July 19, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I agree there needs to be services for all Towson RESIDENTS ONLY, I dont want it in the center of town. Put it out of sight not out of mind.(Its hard to balance both I agree).
Not A. Chance July 19, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Close york to cars. Think Burlington,VT or Boulder,CO.
gino July 19, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Towson does not need any more parking garages,there are enough parking spaces,we should get used to walking instead of trying to park right in front of our destination.Allegheny avenue and Washington avenue look very inviting, Lets close a few streets to unnecesary traffic,and develop a way for residents and merchants to get home and to work.And in regard to vacant businesses on York rd and Chesapeake ave,it is a shame that it happens,but people go out of business all over the world for different reasons,we cannot blame it on parking or because we are afraid of crossing the streets.
Chuck Starkey July 19, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Along with the other ideas about making Towson more pedestrian friendly, the key is to continue to develop more residential housing in downtown Towson that is affordable for young professionals and seniors alike. If more people live in Towson, they will shop and dine in Towson.
Robert Armstrong July 19, 2011 at 02:12 PM
There are too many architectural eyesores in Towson. I think you would almost have to start from scratch. The old Hutzler Building should have been torn down. It's too big of a visual impediment. The Parking garage at Towsontown Center is an structural abomination.
Melody McSweeney July 19, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Buses should be re-routed, they speed up Allegheny, a place usually full of pedestrians and children, all the time. I'd also move or discontinue feet on the street. It has become very shabby the last few years and needs to either be re-vamped or allowed to die a natural death. Dispite the flippant remark made by a woman that works for the Towson Chamber of Commerce, Allegheny Avenue will get along just fine without fos - people are now bringing their own tables and chairs and food either from home or purchased from pizza places OUTSIDE of Towson. This helps us how?
Neversure July 19, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Robert, you're right. There is such a hodge-podge of building styles in Towson, it's laughable. The old Courthouse and old Churches are beautiful, the office buildings along Washington Ave aren't bad, yet the new Towson Police Prescinct Building is ultra-modern. And don't get me started on the Bosley Ave courthouse. It looks like it was built by the Third Reich.
bill costello July 19, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Pedestrians ONLY from Alleghany to Susquehanna.. NO vehicles; not even bikes.
Robert Armstrong July 19, 2011 at 03:14 PM
It's a shame because Towson sits on a hill and the beautiful sight lines are forever blocked by "Commie Block" high rises which in turn create "canyons". I think the Towson Commons is the worst of the bunch. I have a couple of old maps of Towson from the 1820's. It looked like a nice place
K Blue July 19, 2011 at 03:29 PM
I wish that whoever purchased that eye-sore of a building on Pennsylvania with the black/grey exterior (the old Loyola Federal building, I think) and the blacktop parking lot in the rear would raze it to the ground, and rebuild an open-air mall there that extends from Pennsylvania to Allegheny with small restaurants/eateries and shops, new trees, a wide walkway sprinkled with tables or benches, and a wrought-iron gate to close it up late at night.
Marian Eichelman Matthis July 19, 2011 at 03:37 PM
More free parking.
Robert Armstrong July 19, 2011 at 05:12 PM
You could almost continue the open air mall concept across the street from the Loyola Federal Building right into the parking lot next to CVP.
A. Lee July 19, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I'd love to see an Au Bon Pain cafe move into Towson. I ate at one in Boston and it would fit perfectly here. http://www.aubonpain.com/
K.O. July 19, 2011 at 07:14 PM
There was an Au Bon Pain on Allegheny many years ago. I think you can still see the old signage (it was there for a while anyway). But like so many things in Towson, it didn't last. I've never been able to figure out why so many things in Towson fail (nice furniture stores, ice cream parlors, book stores, restaurants, etc. I partly blame bad planning and zoning decisions. All of the residential parcels west of Bosley Ave. and east on Joppa Rd. that were allowed to be rezoned for businesses could have provided a population base that allowed for a local Towson school (which we now have) and more locals within walking distance of "downtown" Towson. What a shame.
K Blue July 19, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Robert, do you mean the Mercantile lot that backs up to/connects with Bankers Way? If so, I agree. As is, its such a waste of space.
Larry Hankin July 19, 2011 at 10:39 PM
As for the wasted space,there is plenty of it. Delaware Avenue from Joppa Road almost to the library are empty lots,There was outdoor seating for VIN until they closed a few years ago, There is the empty Burger King on Joppa Road. There are vast empty lots from York Road to to Washington Avenue along Susquehanna Ave until you get to the credit union bldg. These should be re-zoned as business or residential. The vacant Burger King was supposed to be part of the Towson Circle 3 but I wonder if construction will ever begin on that.
Larry Hankin July 19, 2011 at 10:46 PM
I don't agree about discontinuing Feet On The Street but it needs to be re-vamped a little. They seem to have the same bands and the same music over and over again. There is a lot of competition now on Friday evenings with Belvedere Square, Hunt Valley and White Marsh.
Dana Dalton July 20, 2011 at 03:32 PM
The first thing I would do to improve downtown Towson is to make all parking in the area free, and include clear signage about where to park. If people could park in Towson, they would patronize the local businesses there so these businesses would not have to close down. Parking in Towson is currently horrible. You even have to pay to park while visiting the "free" Library. Convenient, free parking will result in more people visiting and shopping in the area.
johnny towson July 20, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Interesting comments. I know I drive to the Cockeysville library in part because I don't have to pay to park. I don't think Towson has a shortage of parking spaces, they are just poorly conceived.
Jimmy July 21, 2011 at 01:14 AM
There is nothing Towson needs. It is beautiful. Is it convenient to park? No. but all the garages there are more than enough to support the area. People are just lazy. The county spends ALOT of money beautifying Towson. From the new streetscape, to the new condos to the speedbumps with brick inlay (what's wrong with asphalt?) to the brick covered overpasses on 695. What about the rest of the county? We all pay the same taxes, let's spread the wealth.

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