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Cross Keys Sold to New Investor

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Roland Park upscale shopping center the Village of Cross Keys has a new owner, The Baltimore Sun reports. Retail and office property company Ashkenazy Acquisition Property Corporation has purchased the outdoor mall from General Growth Properties, which acquired Cross Keys when it bought the Rouse Company in 2004.

New York-based Ashkenazy’s portfolio includes Boston’s Fanueil Hall, Washington’s Union Station, Beverly Hills Barney’s and many Madison Avenue properties. The company’s experience with luxury retail space bodes well for the high-end North Baltimore shopping center, once considered Baltimore’s premier shopping destination.

Cross Keys has been for decades home to Baltimore’s best local boutiques, among them children’s store The Pied Piper, women’s clothing boutique Ruth Shaw and specialty gift store The Store Ltd., owned by distinguished designer Bill Steinmetz and his jewelry designer/artist wife Betty Cooke. In the last decade or so, Cross Keys has been mismanaged and the high-end center has lost its luster.

“I remember when you could go to Octavia, Ruth Shaw, The Pied Piper, George Howard and Joanna Gray and get all the shopping you needed done in one stop.  It was just as good as anything in New York,” said one Baltimore matron who wished to remain anonymous. “Most of those shops are gone now.”

In the past decade, women’s clothing store Octavia, shoe store Joanna Gray and men’s clothing store George Howard all closed their doors at Cross Keys.

To the new owners, here’s some unsolicited advice: stop with the chain stores. If shoppers are going to go that route, they have Towson Town Mall and Hunt Valley Towne Centre. What draws shoppers to Cross Keys are its unique, upscale local stores. Suggestions for new additions: Holly G. (which closed its Mt. Washington store), another high-end shoe store (Joanna Gray we miss you!), a good jewelry store.

For the sake of nostalgia, here are some of the great stores that used to be at Cross Keys that should never have left: Cross Keys Deli (the fried chicken was Oprah’s favorite!), Nan Duskin (okay, so the Philly-based owners went belly-up, but they carried Hermes scarves and Chanel bags! Those brands have not been seen on Baltimore store shelves since), Heirloom Jewels, Hess Shoes, dresscode by gita and, of course, Octavia, George Howard and Joanna Gray.

Which stores do you miss? What do you think Cross Keys needs to add to bring it back to its former glory? Let us know in the comments.

HBO’s "Game Change," Shot in Maryland, Premieres Sat.

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Game Change, which was filmed in and around Baltimore, will have its D.C. premiere tomorrow night at the Newseum — star Julianne Moore and executive producer Tom Hanks are rumored to attend — and a screening in Baltimore on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Landmark. (Okay, so not as glamorous as the D.C. premiere, but free popcorn and parking!) Both events are invitation only. 

The controversial movie, based on the bestselling book of the same name, airs on Saturday at 9 p.m. on HBO. It follows John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, from his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate to the ticket’s ultimate defeat. Judging by the trailer (see it on our homepage), Moore as Palin and Harris as McCain give eerily accurate portrayals — at least in mannerisms and body language — of the two conservative icons.  The movie also stars Woody Harrelson as McCain operative Steve Schmidt. Baltimore Sun TV Critic David Zurawick describes Moore’s and Harris’s performances as “uncanny” and deems Harrelson’s “Emmy-caliber.”

HBO and Maryland have had a long and successful relationship, shooting both The Wire and The Corner here and recently wrapping the series VEEP in Maryland. The filming of Game Change added approximately 160 local production crew and 1,800 local acting and extras jobs to the state economy, according to Governor O’Malley’s website .

"Sally’s Purse" Pulls the Strings

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All the big shots showed up last night to wish community leader Sally Michel a happy birthday and to give Roland Park a shot in the arm at “Fill Sally’s Purse,” a fundraiser for the Parks & People Foundation at Petit Louis Bistro.  Governor Martin O’Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore Community Foundation President Tom Wilcox, Abell Foundation President Bob Embry, Maryland Institute College of Art President Fred Lazarus and more filled the restaurant to capacity.

The event was conceived by Michel after she and a friend were robbed of a purse last month outside the popular eatery in the typically low-crime neighborhood of Roland Park. Following the theft, she told The Baltimore Sun, “This is ridiculous, with all the other things going on the city…I love that restaurant, and I don’t want it to be damaged. It’s just some little old community volunteer and some little old principal, and we got robbed, and we’re doing fine. I don’t want this damaging the community that I love.”

A source from the foundation said she was inspired to initiate the event to encourage people to return to her beloved neighborhood and the restaurant following the crime.  It also happened to be her 74th birthday.

Petit Louis donated 20 percent of all checks last night to Parks & People, where Sally is co-founder and head of the board. No word yet on how much money Sally’s many friends raised, but we’ll let you know as soon as we know.

Police kept a close watch on the restaurant after the January 31 holdup. Last night, some patrons noticed “a large presence of under cover police at the entrance with buttons in their ears and many cop cars patrolling,” as one emailed to me this morning. Despite the intrigue, rumor has it that it was just routine security detail for the governor.

A Toxic Relationship Between Love and Huguely

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The trial of George Huguely, the University of Virginia lacrosse player who is accused of murdering Baltimore’s Yeardley Love, began yesterday.  No surprise, it sounds like the two had a toxic relationship. 

“Drunken rages, romantic betrayals and teary reconciliations defined the relationship between University of Virginia students Yeardley Love and George Huguely V,” said the prosecution in its opening statement Wednesday in Charlottesville, Virginia, reports The Washington Post.

A few days before she died, he sent her an email that said in part: “I should have killed you.” Prosecutors publicly revealed that e-mail for the first time yesterday.

One rumor circling around Baltimore for years is that the sweet-faced Notre Dame Prep grad feared the athlete for months and planned to break all ties with him after graduation.  She died just weeks before graduating from the University of Virginia.

In one incident that left Love hysterical, a male lacrosse player from another university intervened at a party when he heard noises coming from a room and found Love in a “choke hold” by Huguely. Love was visibly “shaking and upset” by the episode, her roommate Caitlin Whitely testified.

Huguely’s lawyers said in their opening statement yesterday that their client never planned or wanted to hurt Love, and therefore the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter, “should be the only verdict you carefully” weigh.

Eight witnesses testified yesterday including Love’s mother, Sharon, and her older sister, Lexie, who described the call notifying her of Yeardley’s death.  She also spoke of the trip back home to Cockeysville, with Yeardley’s car full of her possessions trailing behind.

French Lessons

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Forget the Tiger Mom phenomenon. All over the internet now is Pamela Druckerman’s new book, Bringing Up Bebe, which asserts that French parents do a better job of raising children than their American counterparts.

Druckerman is an American who lives in Paris with her British husband and three children — in the book, she regales readers with examples of her own American “hyper-parenting” and asks why we Americans seem to be enslaved to our kids.

“Why was it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I’d clocked at French playgrounds, I’d never seen a child (except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why didn’t my French friends ever need to rush off the phone because their kids were demanding something? Why hadn’t their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours had?” she asks in story adapted from the book for WSJ Online.

Yesterday’s NYTimes review was lukewarm — “Much of the so-called French child rearing wisdom compiled here is obvious,” wrote reviewer Susannah Meadows. Really? I’ve seen too much of what Druckerman describes in my own home and around Baltimore (yes, I mean you, dad at Miss Shirley’s whose toddler kept coming up to our table) to not give it some consideration. Could we learn something from the French?

Community Leader Robbed in Roland Park

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We were sorry to hear yesterday that two Baltimore institutions — Sally Michel and Petit Louis — were in the news for all the wrong reasons: The indefatigable civic leader Mrs. Michel was robbed outside the esteemed French bistro Petit Louis in Roland Park.

After dinner Tuesday night at the restaurant in the 4800 block of Roland Avenue, Sally, founder of the Parks and People Foundation, and her 60-something former principal friend — who prefers not to be named — entered a car parked on the street at about 8:00 p.m. They were then approached by a man demanding their purses. (Despite reports that they were “robbed at gunpoint,” he threatened to have a gun, but never showed it.)  He got one of the ladies’ purses but not the other.

By yesterday afternoon, swarms of police cars, TV crews and reporters descended on the neighborhood responding to the crime. Yet both victims had recovered by then, neither worse for the wear. Michel told The Baltimore Sun, with characteristic pluck, “This is ridiculous, with all the other things going on the city,” she said. “I love that restaurant, and I don’t want it to be damaged. It’s just some little old community volunteer and some little old principal, and we got robbed, and we’re doing fine. I don’t want this damaging the community that I love.”

Sally lives not far from the restaurant and her daughters live in Roland Park too. 

Good thing no one was hurt. Maybe today things will click back to normal. For the sake of all involved, we hope so.

Baltimore’s Alfalfa Club Members

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The power elite convened at the Capital Hilton Saturday night for the Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual event that brings together the heaviest of business and political heavy hitters. It is expected that the President of the United States attend each year and this year three presidents — George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama — were there.  

But it’s not just inside-the-beltway denizens who are invited to rub elbows. Alfalfa Club Baltimoreans include Johns Hopkins Opthamologist Neil Bressler, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and former Oriole and Baltimore icon Cal Ripken, among others.

Membership of the elite club was made public just recently when Occupy DC, whose members also convened at the Capital Hilton in protest,  published a PDF of the list of members on its website. 

Best joke of the night, according to The Washington Post, was told by former Supreme Court Justice and outgoing Alfalfa Club President Sandra Day O’Connor: “Mitt is the Mormon — but Newt is the polygamist,” she quipped.  Who says women aren’t funny?

IPO to Make Instant Millionaires of Millennial Media Founders

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Watch for these two names: Paul Palmieri and Chris Brandenburg.  Both are poised to become Kevin Plank-important, and soon.

With the filing last week of the necessary documents for an initial public offering of Millennial Media, the Baltimore-based mobile ad network is sure to make multi-millionaires of its 40ish founders — Palmieri and Brandenburg. The documents put the value of the company at $305 million. And it’s just the beginning. See filing at Citybizlist

Five-year-old Millennial Media is the largest independently owned mobile ad network, with offices in Baltimore, London, DC, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Singapore. Its two major competitors — Admob and Quattro — are owned by tech giants Google and Apple. According to TechCrunch, Millennial has seen growth of 138 percent in the last year with revenues near $70 million in the first nine months of 2011. Net losses, meanwhile, declined from $5.4 million to $417,000. 

While the company and its co-founders are well-known in the tech community — both have been the recipients of too many awards to list here — they are less known in and around Baltimore.  Palimieri graduated from Mount St. Mary’s College in 1992 and lives in Hunt Valley. Brandenburg is a UMBC grad, who is from Harford County.

So if you’re a development director looking for deep-pocketed board members or a scientist in search of someone to fund your latest study or a just an ambitious artistic visionary in search of a patron, you should probably friend these guys on Facebook, or better yet, connect with them on LinkedIn. But don’t get hurt feelings if they ignore your request. They’re kind of busy right now…

Baltimore Fishbowl Top Stories of 2011

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We checked our analytics to determine your favorite stories for the first half-year in the life of the Baltimore Fishbowl (okay, seven months). See below a list of what you read most, or if you missed something, where to play catch up first… 

 1. “An Inside Look at Johns Hopkins Med School Admissions” – This story by Associate Editor Rachel Monroe drew attention from medical schools around the country. The mysteries of elite admissions never cease to fascinate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  “Desperate Housewives of Roland Park” – This heartbreaking and humorous tale of one local writer’s flirtation with her construction worker introduced many of our readers to Marion Winik, assistant professor of writing at the University of Baltimore and our most followed writer. Read her column, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” every first and third Wednesday on the BFB. Other mega-popular columns by Marion Winik? “The Decline and Fall of the Party People,” “The Things They Googled,” and “Don’t Sweat the Chicken Soup.”

 

3.  “Eight Acres and a Story in the Greenspring Valley” – From our popular Hot House series, short write-ups about local real estate on the market that catches the attention of writer Cynthia McIntyre for one fascinating reason or another. This one describing Greenspring Valley creepy yet grand mansion Mensana included details of the unfortunate downfall of the disgraced doctor owner who lost his license and narrowly escaped prison time for sexual misconduct. 

 

 

 

4.  “8 Over 80” – Local writer Kathy Hudson spent months researching and interviewing the many delightful and accomplished octogenarian subjects she profiled. Actually, we probably could have done 18 over 80. Whittling down the list proved to be one of the most difficult tasks of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 5.  “Big Fish Q & A with Julie Bowen” – Local-girl-done-good Julie Bowen (Luetkemeyer) always draws a crowd when she is on the BFB. It helps that she’s the Emmy Award-winning star of the nation’s number one sitcom, “Modern Family.” Our analytics show that her following goes beyond Baltimore — readers around the globe flock to the site when she’s featured.

 

 

 

 

6.  “Baltimore Media Insurgents” – This roundup of online Baltimore media sources by former Baltimore City Paper Editor-in-Chief Michael Yockel pleased local readers who are eager for smart new sources of news and information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  “Pot Smoking Parents” – This report by Senior Editor Betsy Boyd about suburban Baltimore parents getting high was our lead story at launch seven months ago and continues to lure curious viewers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  “Baltimore County Estate with Grand Past Languishes in Foreclosure” – This historical account/gossipy tale by writer Krista Smith about Cliffeholme, one of the most massive and most exquisitely beautiful houses in Baltimore County, lying fallow still has tongues wagging. 

 

 

 

 

 

9. “Undercurrent: A Sex Scandal’s Sudden Impact” – This sad and moving memoir by writer Holly Morse-Ellington about her brother’s jail time for sexual misconduct with a minor — a chilling account of an adult sister’s realizations and regrets — remains widely read. Published as part of our popular “My Real Life Modern Family” series.

 

 

10. “Dan Deacon on How Baltimore Became a Bright Star in the Indie Music Galaxy” – Contributor Robert M. O’Brien’s account of musician Dan Deacon’s rise to fame, and the roots of the Baltimore indie music scene, exposed many regular readers to Baltimore’s burgeoning creative little city within our larger city.

 

 

Early Decision Angst: Dartmouth Tells on Friday

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This email came from a friend early this morning:

“Did you hear Dartmouth sent an email to all its ED applicants saying, ‘We know we told you we’d respond by 12/15, but we’re going to send you all emails with results by this Friday.’ There are some pacing, nauseous kids around!!

Somehow my daughter knows that 30 (local) kids have already been admitted ED into her first choice school. What an awful reality — she can actually keep real -time track of her likelihood of admission!!!”

Good luck to all the students anxiously awaiting to hear from schools. Keep in mind the perspective of our wise college intern, Arlo Shakur: “You get to do whatever you want pretty much, there are no parents around and you live with people your own age. College is great no matter where you go.”

No truer words were ever spoken. 

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