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.