Village of Cross Keys sale to local owners set for July 21

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The highly anticipated sale of the Village of Cross Keys to local owners is expected to be final on July 21.

Robert Connors, president of the Roland Park Civic League, disclosed at the organization’s monthly meeting yesterday that a date has been set for the property to be sold to an affiliate of Caves Valley Partners, the local developer that began negotiating last year with the current owner, New York City-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp.

Connors said in an email message after the meeting that the transaction has gone “very slowly due to COVID” but is “still moving forward.”

The Civic League is involved because it has restrictive covenants on the property at 5100 Falls Road that specify what can be built there. Its board also has been asked to support Caves Valley’s redevelopment plans to the extent that they will require zoning changes and other approvals from the city.

Caves Valley principal Arsh Mirmiran confirmed the settlement date but declined to discuss the specifics of the sale, saying he would be in a better position to do so “once we get to the finish line.”

Mirmiran said in an email that the Civic League has been very supportive during the negotiations. “We can’t wait to deliver a refreshed project for everyone!”

The plan calls for Caves Valley to acquire the retail and office portions of the mixed-use community, including developable land, but not the separately owned hotel or nearly 700 residential units on the property between Northern Parkway and Hamill Road.

At a Civic League meeting in January, Mirmiran said the sale includes Village Square I and II with all of its retail space and common areas, all of the office space, the Quadrangle building, the tennis barn, the structure that contains Williams-Sonoma, a parking deck and several surface lots, including land near the Poly and Western high schools.

He did not disclose a purchase price at the time but said he hoped to complete the sale by the early spring of 2020.

Besides acquiring and upgrading existing buildings, Mirmiran said in his January presentation that Caves Valley is exploring plans to add a five- to six-story apartment building with 300 to 350 units; an office building; a 20,000- to 25,000-square-foot grocery store; one or two restaurants; a gym or fitness center; a hair salon or spa and other retailers; and structured parking.

He said Caves Valley also wants to upgrade the gatehouse on Falls Road, reconfigure the main entrance, beef up the southernmost entrance, and improve the common areas.

This was before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in America and caused a rethinking of retail and office spaces in mixed-use communities such as Cross Keys. No redevelopment plans for Cross Keys have been presented to the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel.

The Village of Cross Keys was constructed starting in the 1960s by legendary developer James Rouse and the Rouse Company. It served as a prototype for Rouse.s even-larger planned community of Columbia, Maryland.

Rouse also developed the Harborplace pavilions, which opened 40 years ago today, overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

During the Civic League meeting yesterday, members talked about the potential impact any new construction at Cross Keys might have on traffic in the area, especially the intersection of Falls Road and Northern Parkway.

A representative of the city’s Department of Transportation told residents that a study is in the works to gauge traffic flow and recommend ways to make the intersection safer.

Ed Gunts

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