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Planned Lutherville Apartments Test County's Dedication To Transit-Centric Building

Schwaber Holdings wants to build a transit-oriented development at the Lutherville Station Shopping Center.

A proposal to build apartments and offices at Lutherville Station Shopping Center may challenge Baltimore County’s commitment to transit-oriented development. 

Baltimore developer Mark Renbaum plans to build 400 apartments and office space at the shopping center in northern Baltimore County, the Baltimore Business Journal reported. 

The project sits next to the Lutherville Light Rail Station, and Renbaum asked Maryland to grant the project transit-oriented development status. 

Maryland defines a transit-focused project as "a place of relatively higher density that includes a mix of residential, employment, shopping and civic uses designed to encourage multi-modal access to the station area."

Most importantly to the builder, transit-oriented development status provides access to additional financing tools and tax breaks.  

Baltimore County also stated its preference for transit-oriented projects in its 2020 master plan.

“The plan prefers transit-oriented planning to automobile-oriented planning and prioritizes redevelopment projects at large transit hubs like MDOT MTA LightRail Link and MARC Train Stations,” the county wrote in that document.  

However, according to the Baltimore Business Journal, nearby residents oppose the plan. They are reportedly gearing up to fight the proposal by pushing back against new zoning for the site, which the owner needs to build the project as presented. 

Renbaum has local experience overhauling shopping centers into mixed-use projects. His MLR Real Estate partnered with MCB Real Estate to raze and redevelop the Northwood Commons near Morgan State University with a Barnes & Noble-operated student bookstore and university public safety offices.  

Planners and elected officials throughout the metro area have frequently praised and incentivized transit-friendly buildings, only to face stiff opposition from surrounding neighborhoods.

In the city, various developers and owners of properties surrounding the Clipper Mill Light Rail station have repeatedly run into opposition from neighbors over transit-oriented proposals.

CORRECTION, DEC. 12, 9:54 A.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Lutherville Station's owner. The story has been updated.