New buyers interested in Presbyterian Home property in Towson
Towson-based developer Caves Valley Partners has canceled a contract to purchase the Presbyterian Home of Maryland building on Georgia Court, in Towson, according to Baltimore County Councilman David Marks.
In the meantime, three other potential buyers of the property said this week they have formulated development proposals for the property that include condominiums or an assisted living center for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Also, the President of the Southland Hills Improvement Association, which represents residents who live near the 19th-century mansion who do not want to see it razed or the property it sits on over-developed, said that it is a priority to see the historical architecture remain in place, adding that the community continues to support a pending request to make the property a county landmark.
In May, the Presbyterian Home of Maryland nursing home announced that it was leaving the building after nearly 90 years of operation there and putting the land and building up for sale.
At the request of the Southland Hills residents, the Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County submitted a request to the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission to have it added to the county’s list of historic landmarks. The focus point of the property’s historicity is the Bosley Mansion, which was constructed in the mid-1800s.
Submitting that request was essentially a way to pause the process of deciding the property’s future, because while the designation is being considered the building can’t be demolished, according to county officials.
Caves Valley Partners emerged in August as the winning bidder for that sale, with a proposal to place Baltimore County offices in the mansion. However, after residents of Southland Hills said they feared the plan would lead to increased traffic and parking problems, the county backed away from that proposal.
Presbyterian Home board member Joe Slovick sent Marks, who represents Towson, an email Jan. 20 stating that Caves Valley had canceled its contract, which Marks said referred to an agreement to buy the property for an undisclosed price. Slovick said in the email that several potential buyers of the property exist.
Presbyterian Home of Maryland President Sue Shea declined comment through a spokesperson Monday, and Slovick did not return a call for comment left with the Presbyterian Home. Officials of Caves Valley Partners did not return a call requesting comment.
On Monday, the 4.38-acre property was listed on the site of MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate, which is acting as the broker for the Presbyterian Home, with an option for investors to submit bids.
Marks said Monday that he supports a residential use for the property and would like to see its open space remain untouched.
“I would like to see as much of the lawn preserved as possible,” he said.
Bidders remain interested
Several potential buyers who submitted bids for the property last summer confirmed their continued interest in the property Tuesday.
Patrick Byrne, Director of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said he and a group of private partners are interested in purchasing the property for use as an assisted living facility with a focus on memory care for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Byrne said he sees the property’s large lawn, which neighbors have said they want to preserve, as an asset, adding that he would not restrict public access to the lawn and might even add a playground there.
“We hope to have a very interactive relationship between the community and the residents,” he said.
Byrne said his proposal, which he submitted to MacKenzie last summer, would leave the exterior of the property as is, apart from a fresh coat of paint. The interior would need a renovation, he added, the scope of which is unknown, as his partnership has not done a full assessment of the building.
Baltimore-based developer Marty Azola also reiterated his interest in the property Tuesday. Azola has proposed reusing the existing building as a condominium development. Azola said his business, Azola, Inc., has focused on adaptive reuse of buildings for more than 50 years.
Azola said his initial proposal was for 40 units on the property, though that number could change depending on what is economically feasible in the Towson housing market.
“We would try to design the project for as few units as possible to keep the pricing in line with Towson and Southland Hills for that product,” Azola said.
Southland Hills Improvement Association President Paul Saleh
said Tuesday that he has recently spoken with Byrne and Azola about their plans for the property, adding that the community association thinks both proposals are a positive use of the property.
“We really appreciate these potential buyers engaging the community,” Saleh said.
A third bidder, Harbor Retirement Associates, also confirmed its interest in the property Tuesday but declined to provide details about potential plans for the parcel. Harbor Retirement Associates is a Florida-based senior-living community developer and manager that operates “25 communities and is partnering on the development or acquisition of 15 more” in eight states, according to its website.
Saleh said that bidder has been in contact with the community, but not recently.
Saleh said the Southland Hills Improvement Association hopes to work with whomever buys the property, and will continue to support a proposal to add the property to the county’s list of historic landmarks. The association would like to see a residential use on the property, which Saleh said could include condominiums or assisted living.
A hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission to decide the property’s historic status is scheduled for April 13.
Officially declaring the building historic would mean that its exterior architecture could not be altered without the approval of the county’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, nor could the structure be torn down without the commission’s approval, according to county officials. If the commission votes to declare the building historic, the Baltimore County Council would ultimately have the final vote on whether to add the property to the list.
Azola has said he believes declaring the property a landmark is very important, but added that it is also important to define what portions of the building are worth protecting.
“We’ll figure that out if we get the opportunity,” Azola said.
Byrne said his group is not opposed to the landmark status, and could pursue a landmark designation itself if the pending proposal isn’t approved.