Barnes & Noble didn’t want to close its Towson store, but is leaving due to forces beyond its control, according to a corporate executive in New York.

“The property is going through a major re-development, which would not allow for us to remain in place during the construction,” said David Deason, vice president of development for Barnes & Noble, in a statement. “We have enjoyed serving our customers in Towson and we look forward to continuing to serve them at the nearby Pikesville, White Marsh and Power Plant stores.”

Barnes & Noble said yesterday that it plans to close its Towson store “at the end of May” and that its employees there will be given opportunities to interview for jobs at other company locations. A representative said the company has nothing to announce about new locations in the area.

Customers reacted to the closing news with sadness and disappointment, noting that Barnes & Noble is the last large bookstore in the Towson area following the departures of Borders Books and Music, Ukazoo Books and Greetings and Readings.

“Very sad that we won’t have a book store in Towson,” Katie Gore said in a comment posted on Facebook. “I will miss it greatly. It was a well run store with great customer service. I hope all the employees find good jobs.

“How can a college town…not have a bookstore?” asked Amy Costello Miller.

With two levels of space, including a café, Barnes & Noble also is one of the last retailers currently operating in the Towson Circle development at 1 East Joppa Road, following the departure of Pier One Imports and others.

A branch of Trader Joe’s is closing March 16 and reopening at The Shops at Kenilworth the next day. The exterior of the old Hutzler’s department store bears evidence of store signs that have been removed from the side of the building like refrigerator magnets as tenants moved out.

As recently as last fall, the Towson Barnes & Noble was expected to stay at its current location. Rumors included that it might downsize by going from two levels to one, but not that it would close altogether.

In his statement about redevelopment, Deason was referring to plans by the property owner, Retail Properties of America, to begin construction of an apartment building in place of a sunken parking lot that currently provides the main entrance and primary parking area for Barnes & Noble and Trader Joe’s.

Work is expected to begin this year on the residential project, which will include 371 apartments and lower-level commercial space. The Barnes & Noble store also has an entrance from York Road but no adjacent parking.

The owner also plans to renovate the exterior of the Hutzler’s building to give it a new look. The construction activity is expected to last into 2018.

Retail Properties of America did not respond to a request for information about Barnes & Noble’s departure.

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.