November 2017 Around Town

Towson University Professor 
A Contender for 2017 National 
Book Award in Poetry

Early this fall, Leslie Harrison, Towson University assistant professor, was named a semifinalist for the 2017 National Book Award in Poetry. Harrison, a resident of Rodgers Forge, is the author of “The Book of Endings,” one of only 10 titles to be listed on the National Book Awards’ long list of this year’s poetry contenders. According to the National Book Awards website, Harrison’s work is an attempt “to make sense of, or at least come to some kind of reckoning with absence—the death of the author’s mother, the absence of the beloved, the absence of an accountable god, cicadas, the dead stars arriving, the dead moon aglow in the night sky.” Harrison and the nine other finalists were selected out of nearly 250 submissions to this year’s competition. This year’s winner will be announced by the five-judge panel in a live ceremony on November 15.

East Towson Home to New 
Marker Honoring Founding African American Community

The neighborhood of East Towson recently became home to a new historic marker shedding light on neighborhood’s origins and commemorating its past. The sign, which was installed as part of the agreement to allow construction of luxury townhouses nearby, pays tribute to the community of freed slaves who established East Towson in the middle of the 19th century. The slaves, who were formerly owned by Baltimore County’s historically prominent Ridgely family, established the current site of East Towson on land once part of Ridgely family estate following their emancipation. The marker, which stands at the northeast corner of Towsontown Boulevard and Virginia Avenue, was unveiled in a public ceremony attended by Adelaide Bentley, the president of the North East Towson Improvement Association as well as members of the East Towson community.

Redevelopment of Towson 
Circle Takes Shape

The immense redevelopment of Towson Circle, considered by many the heart of Towson, is gaining momentum as developers unveil their proposals for the area and begin to break ground. Retail Properties of America Inc. (RAPI) and Avalon Bay Communities recently unveiled a revised and expanded plan for the development, now called Circle East. Containing both residential and commercial elements, the project is slated to take three years to complete. The $125 million project will see the former Hutzler Bros. and Barnes & Noble converted into a retail and storage development that will open sometime next summer. Across Joppa Road, a residential development will break ground next year. Nick Over, a vice president with RAPI, says he hopes to make the area conducive to both pedestrian and storefront traffic. If all goes to plan, ground is slated to be broken sometime this month.

Furniture Store to redevelop 
Joppa Road Property

A long-vacant lot in Towson finally has a new occupant. After a two-year delay, plans for the construction of a Gavigan’s Home Furnishings store on East Joppa Roa near Towson, have been approved and construction is underway. The site, which was once home to a Salvation Army Thrift Store and Harold’s Fruit Market, has been vacant for several years. According to Gavigan’s spokeswoman Natalie Dunn, the store originally announced plans to develop the site in 2015, however, hold-ups in the building process delayed construction until recently.

The new development will be Gavigan’s sixth Baltimore area location. The company, which is based in Linthicum Heights, also has stores in Westminster, the Forest Hill/Bel Air area in Harford County, Dundalk, Glen Burnie and Catonsville.

Towson’s Stanley 
Black & Decker Opens Makerspace for Towson Employees

The Stanley Black & Decker campus has been a fixture of Towson’s history for nearly a century. However, their most recent project is a certain look towards the future.  The company recently opened a makerspace near its main campus, stocked with a wide array of power tools, hand tools and modern equipment used for everything from welding to 3-D printing. Located on Joppa Road, the new complex is open to all its employees.

The complex, the first of its kind opened by Stanley Black and Decker, grew out of a desire to harness the creativity of its employees in order to foster product innovation and further their skill development. According to Audrey Van De Castle, the makerspace shop manager, the space offers a unique opportunity to Stanley’s Towson employees to innovate, learn and contribute to the company’s development process.

“It takes some exclusive equipment that you maybe otherwise would never have access to and gives it to anyone,” Van De Castle says. “The possibilities that can come from it are so endless. That’s what’s great about the maker movement is that anyone can learn and anyone can make.”


The Church of the Nativity in Lutherville celebrated the official opening of its new worship space with a mass of dedication on Friday, September 8th. Completed as scheduled in the first week of September, the $13M renovation/addition was made necessary by the church’s growing congregation—masses draw up to 4,000 congregants each week. The new space includes a 40,000-square-foot two-story Nave/Sanctuary/Narthex addition to the existing Church. The new sanctuary is approximately 30,000 square feet with a maximum occupancy of 1,450 people.

Site work included modifications to the existing parking lot to accommodate new circulation patterns, 100 new parking spaces, and stormwater management. The project was overseen by Lewis Contractors of Owings Mills and involved 30 other firms.