Village of Cross Keys developers pay tribute to the community’s original builder, James Rouse, on what would have been his 108th birthday

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In front a plaque dedicated to James Rouse, the original developer of the Village of Cross Keys, stand local and state officials, developers and business leaders during a ceremony on Tuesday on what would have been Rouse’s 108th birthday. (Left to right) Ted Rouse, son of James Rouse; Betty Cooke, owner of The Store Ltd and an original/continuing tenant at Cross Keys; Del. Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg; Del. Dalya Attar; Arsh Mirmiran, partner at Caves Valley Partners; Baltimore City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton; Patrick Terranova, development manager at Caves Valley Partners; and Del. D. Antonio Bridges. Photo courtesy of M. Brown Consultant.

The company working to revitalize the Village of Cross Keys paid tribute to original developer James Rouse this week by naming a building in his honor on what would have been his 108th birthday.

The James Rouse Memorial Gatehouse is now the official name of the structure that marks the entrance to the mixed-use community at 5100 Falls Road, developed by The Rouse Company starting in 1965 as a prototype for the “new town” of Columbia, Maryland.

Caves Valley Partners acquired certain commercial assets of the community in July 2020 and has been working to revitalize it with new shops, restaurants, housing, offices and upgrades to the common areas. Developer Arsh Mirmiran has said he wants all of the changes to build on and be consistent with Rouse’s original vision for the community.

On Tuesday, Caves Valley Partners unveiled a plaque that honors Rouse and underscores Mirmiran’s pledge.

“The gatehouse for the Village of Cross Keys is dedicated to James Rouse and his vision for this property as a prototype for a series of planned, mixed-use communities developed by The Rouse Company,” the plaque states. “The Village of Cross Keys will continue to pursue Mr. Rouse’s ideals, including meeting the needs of the people who live, work and shop here, while creating a spirit of neighborliness and a rich sense of belonging to the community.”

The ceremony was attended by State Delegates Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg, Dalya Attar and D. Antonio Bridges II; Baltimore City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton; Ted Rouse, one of James Rouse’s sons; and one of Cross Keys’ original merchants, jewelry designer and entrepreneur Betty Cooke of The Store Ltd.

Rouse acquired the Cross Keys property from the Baltimore Country Club in the early 1960s. He envisioned a village where residents were positioned around a central area that would meet their everyday needs, including a grocer, deli, and other shops that would also serve the broader Roland Park community. To complete the village idea, Rouse planned offices and recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, and a hotel. The hotel was not part of property acquired by Caves Valley Partners.

Renovations at Cross Keys started in 2020. Completed work includes the gatehouse entrance roadway and landscaping improvements; renovation of the gatehouse itself, and a comprehensive renovation of office lobbies and common areas. Portions of the Village Square are currently being updated, with completion expected by this fall.

Future proposed additions include new restaurant and retail space with a valet zone; 450 structured parking spaces; a 330-unit luxury apartment building; charging stations for electric vehicles, and a midrise office building.

During the ceremony, Mirmiran quoted Rouse: “There is a real need, we believe, for residential developments in which there is a strong sense of community; a need to feed into the city some of the atmosphere and pace of the small town and village; a need to create a community which can meet as many as possible of the needs of the people who live there; which can bring these people into natural contact with one another; which can produce out of those relationships a spirit and feeling of neighborliness and a rich sense of belonging to a community.”

Mirmiran also reiterated his promise to stay true to Rouse’s vision.

“The Village of Cross Keys you see today is essentially what Jim Rouse planned,” he said. “We are striving to live up to his standards as we reinvigorate the Village of Cross Keys and complete the final pieces of his original vision.”

Ed Gunts

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