TU’s Anchor Strategy for Towson & Greater Baltimore

Towson University is developing a comprehensive placemaking strategy that will support its academic mission and strengthen its connections to the Towson and Greater Baltimore communities.

TU is situated within a vibrant community and is one of the best places in the country to live, work, learn, and raise a family. In order to best leverage Towson’s assets, the university is partnering with Margrave Strategies and U3 Advisors to study and develop a comprehensive strategy focused on strengthening the connectivity between communities, core institutions and emerging businesses. 

“ As the largest university in Greater Baltimore, Towson University is committed to taking on an even greater leadership role as an anchor institution and further strengthening its connections and positive impact with community and business partners. ”

TU President Kim Schatzel

Goals of the Project

  • Strengthen the connectivity between communities, core institutions and emerging businesses.
  • Support the implementation of the president’s priorities, including BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore. Leverage the existing understanding of philanthropic and business communities in the Greater Baltimore region in order to enhance partnerships for TU.
  • Manage future institutional demand, and make better use of campus “edges,” to create more vibrant walkable spaces that better connect the university with the Greater Towson community.

Key Research Takeaways

The Margrave team analyzed and synthesized Towson University and community data to identify how the “inputs” of the university—students, employees, real estate, investment—align with the outcomes of marking the university and its surroundings a desirable place to live, work and study. In addition, Margrave engaged with internal and external stakeholders through public events and roundtables. Here is what Margrave learned:

About TU Employees

  • Millennial Employment Trends: Towson University has a lower percentage of Millennial employees compared to other Towson employers. However, the percentage of full-time hires in the last year has grown. There were 950+ new hires (full-time and part-time) last year.
  • Younger Employees Live Closer: Employees who live closer to campus tend to be younger than their counterparts. Approximately 13% of all TU employees live in Towson, and 49% live in Baltimore County.

Working in Towson

  • Educated Workforce: Healthcare, education and public administration are the three primary industries in Towson. Almost 1/3 of all occupations require at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Leveraging Towson University's Incubator: Many of the needs of Towson University’s Incubator align with efforts of place-based economic development including: creation of new facilities, connections to student and faculty research, and co-leveraging services provided by the university or other stakeholders.

Demand for Student Housing

  • More Upper-Division Housing: The vast majority of juniors, seniors, transfers and graduate students live off campus. Apartment-style living on campus is in high demand. 
  • Apartments vs. Homes: The majority of off-campus students live in apartment complexes, but with a limited supply some still share single family homes.

Attractive Amenities & Opportunities

  • Accessibility & Urbanism: Presently, the only areas within Towson that a resident, student or employee could meet all daily necessities with a variety of options are Uptown and the areas just south of the Towson Circle.
  • Transportation & Walkability: There is increased support for better walkability and a bike-friendly Towson. Towson University’s shuttle provides good access around Towson and service to popular apartment complexes.
  • Desired Retail & Amenities: The most desired amenities and retail opportunities identified by students and other stakeholders include higher quality restaurants, performance spaces and an independent coffee shop.

Our Placemaking Partners

Margrave Strategies: Launched by former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, the firm provides a comprehensive array of economic development, planning and visioning services to institutions, businesses and other groups throughout Maryland and the mid-Atlantic.

U3 Advisors: This Philadelphia-based firm provides real estate and economic development solutions to the universities, medical centers, foundations and non-profits that anchor our communities.