Urban Landscape: Williams Sonoma Store Closing in Towson; Mount Vernon Building Up for Auction; New Vision for 33rd Street; Columbia’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Begins

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Trader Joe’s is leaving downtown Towson this month. Barnes & Noble’s Towson store will close in May. Now, another well-known retailer in Towson is shutting its doors.

Williams Sonoma has posted signs in Towson Town Center saying its store there is closing and everything is 30 percent off.

“We will be closing this location,” one sign states. “We apologize for any inconvenience and invite you to visit or call us at our nearby locations” – the Village of Cross Keys and the Mall in Columbia.

“Help us lighten our load by enjoying additional savings on select merchandise,” another sign states.

Founded in 1956 and known for carrying a wide range of items of interest to cooks, from bakeware to cutlery to cook books, Williams Sonoma was one of the first retailers to join Towson Town Center after it expanded in the 1990s. The store is located on the fourth level of the mall.

In recent years, the California-based chain has been shutting some locations where it has more than one store in the same market. At Towson Town Center, Williams Sonoma has faced competition from another kitchenware store, Sur La Table.

According to a sales representative, the Towson store will close permanently in April.

Historic Building Sells for $325,000 Near Johns Hopkins Medical Campus

A historic building and surrounding property between downtown Baltimore and the Johns Hopkins medical campus has sold at auction for less than the price of a new townhouse in Hampden.

A vacant Italianate school at 249 Aisquith Street sold for $325,000 on Friday, according to Paul Cooper of Alex Cooper Auctioneers, which handled the sale.

The sale included a two-story, 6,500-square-foot building, which dates from 1869, and a surface parking lot. In all, the property is three-quarters of an acre. The land is zoned R-8, for high-density residential use.

The property, located at the southeast corner of Aisquith and Orleans streets, was put up for auction after receiving a vacant building notice from the City of Baltimore. Nearby properties include Pleasant View Gardens and its Under Armour-sponsored recreation center, a city library branch, Dunbar High School and Hopkins’ medical campus.

Bidding started at $100,000. The winning bidder is required to rehabilitate the property under the terms of the sale.

Cooper said he does not know the identity of the buyer because it was a corporate entity, but he understands it is a real estate investor from the West Coast. He said the sale drew five pre-qualified bidders, an encouraging turnout.

“You’re in the shadow of Hopkins,” Cooper said. “It’s a good opportunity for someone to take a vacant building and renovate it…It’s a positive sign to have that many people interested in renovating a building in the community.”

Historic Building Containing Ryleigh’s Oyster Near Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Headed for Auction on March 23

The former Heptasoph Hall at 1225 Cathedral Street is scheduled for auction at noon on March 23. Developer Bill Struever renovated it for use as Ethel’s Place, a jazz club for Ethel Ennis and Earl Arnett.

The building currently houses Ryleigh’s Oyster, a tenant on the lower level, and the Theatre Project on the upper level. Nearby properties including the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and buildings on the Maryland Institute College of Art campus. Alex Cooper is the auctioneer, and this is a voluntary sale on behalf of the owner.

A New Vision for 33rd Street

Possible changes to 33rd Street will be discussed during a community meeting starting at 6 p.m. today, March 6, at the Waverly Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 400 E. 33rd Street.

The Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition is leading the meeting with Bikemore, a bike advocacy group. The coalition is working to build an urban trail network that would better connect Lake Montebello with neighborhoods such as Charles Village, Oakenshawe, Waverly and Ednor Gardens, using 33rd Street as a circulation spine.

One of the design issues is determining the best way to provide bike paths along 33rd Street, possibly using part of the median that was created as part of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.’s 1904 vision for Baltimore’s parks system. Plan4Health, an initiative of the American Planning Association, has awarded a grant for planning.

Sagamore Pendry Baltimore Hotel Gets its Liquor License

The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel cleared a key development hurdle last week when it received a liquor license for its property. March 20 is the tentative opening date for the 128-room hotel at 1715 Thames Street in Fells Point.

Mary Ann Mears Sculpture Broken in Owings Mills

The Owings Mills Metro station features a 1987 work of public art by Mary Ann Mears, entitled “Streamings.” For more than a month, the colorful lights associated with the artwork have been out, leaving the sculpture less effective than usual and leaving the station gloomier than usual.

Asked about the scultpure, an attendant at the station said, “It’s not my job to fix the lights,” she said, also suggesting, “You might want to make a report” to the Maryland Transit Administration.

Celebrating Columbia’s 50th Anniversary

Columbia officially turns 50 years old in June, and residents are planning a six-month celebration.

The Mall in Columbia will kick off the planned community’s birthday celebration with a day of festivities on March 19. Opening ceremonies start at 11 a.m. in the Outdoor Plaza in front of Maggiano’s and Seasons 52 restaurants. Mall-wide entertainment starts at 11:30 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

The opening ceremony will feature brief remarks by elected officials and Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration organizers. Representatives from each of Columbia’s 10 villages will also participate.

Columbia opened on June 21, 1967, and has celebrated its birthday every year since. “Appreciating the Past. Imagining the Future” is the theme of the 27-week 50th birthday celebration. Community-wide events will be held weekly through Sept. 23.

For updated information and a calendar of events, click here.

This story has been updated to reflect that Trader Joe’s is leaving downtown Towson but not Towson altogether, since it’s moving to Kenilworth Mall.

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

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


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Ed, Trader Joe’s is NOT leaving Towson. It’s just moving slightly west to Kenilworth Mall.

  2. ahem… neighbours of the Heptasoph Hall also include the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, which has been in its present location, just to the south of the Hall, since 1909, pre-dating most of those mentioned.

  3. The reason that Trader Joe’s and Barnes & Noble are “leaving” their current locations is that construction is about to start on a massive, mixed use development at that location.

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