Harford Community College opens new arena

Early next week, officials at Harford Community College will offer a real estate version of the slam dunk: They will officially open the largest indoor athletic site in the state’s northeastern corner, the $16 million Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union Arena.

The ribbons will be cut at 5 p.m. on Dec. 4 in Bel Air just before the Fighting Owls’ women’s and men’s basketball teams play a double header against Catholic University and CCBC/Essex, respectively.

The 3,200-seat arena holds 19,000 square feet of open space for three of HCC’s teams, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. It will also be a venue for community events and commencements, including a visit on Dec. 30 by the Harlem Globetrotters.

The arena is located on campus near the newly renovated Susquehanna Center, which opened in 1968 and just received a $10 million facelift and upgrades that include a fitness center, dance studio and 50,000 square feet of instructional and meeting space.

“The Arena is something I’m asked about frequently when I meet people in the community,” said HCC President Dennis Golladay. “While the Arena is a terrific benefit to our students, it is also eagerly anticipated by the greater community. They are looking forward to the basketball and volleyball games but also to attending concerts and special events, particularly high school graduations that now don’t have to be moved out of Harford County.”

HCC is also looking to raise money through a seat-naming campaign on 1,200 of the arena’s new seats. It will cost you a $100 donation to name a seat in honor or memory of a loved one. Call the college’s Denise Dregier at 443-412-2428 for more information.

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Tis the season of lights.

Look for installation this coming week of a nearly 34-foot menorah in McKeldin Square at the Inner Harbor. It will be the second year the giant symbol of Hanukkah will grace one of the city’s busiest corners.

Lighting will begin on the first day of the eight-day holiday, Dec. 9, at dusk.

The menorah was donated by Owings Mills developer Howard Brown, president of David S. Brown Enterprises, the builder of Metro Centre. Brown said this week he had the menorah designed and built last year to resemble one located at Fifth Avenue at Central Park in New York City, near the busy and ultra-modern Apple computer retail store and, of course, The Plaza Hotel.

He said Baltimore’s is the largest menorah on the East Coast, besting Gotham’s by about three feet in height. Both are made of steel trusses, weighing about 4,000 pounds each.

“You see they do it in Central Park, Bal Harbor and all over the major metropolitan cities, and to me, it’s no different than putting a Christmas tree up,” Brown said. “Why put a Christmas tree up at Rockefeller Center? I don’t see it’s any different.”

Brown said a small group of Jewish leaders obtained a city permit for the nine-candle menorah, which will be taken down after the eighth day. A new candle will be lit (with the flick of a switch because they are electric) nightly.

“You see a lot of Christmas-related decorations, but very seldom do you see these Jewish decoration,” Brown said. “Baltimore has a large Orthodox Jewish community in the Park Heights area and it’s meaningful for the Orthodox and conservative and reform. It’s festive. This really is something that brings the community together a bit.”

About 15 miles up the road, Baltimore County officials plan to light the county’s Christmas tree on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.

The Christian symbol for the holidays will stand in Olympian Park, that small parcel of land in the middle of the Towson roundabout, also known as kamikaze corner because of the constant daring driving feats at the confluence of Allegheny Avenue and York and Joppa Roads.

The count’s event is co-hosted by county elected leaders and the Towson Chamber of Commerce. The tree will be lit at 6:25 p.m. followed by the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will arrive in a fire engine instead of sleigh.

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Real estate spin doctors at Merrick Towle Communications this week launched a new website with better navigation tools and expanded web pages. Beltsville-based Merrick Towle has partnerships with NRP Group, JBG Companies, and Bozzuto Management.

Merrick Towle’s “Big Thinkers Blog” on the website posts regular features on real estate trends and marketing strategies, so important in these wild and uncertain times.

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When you’re 81 years old, you’ve got to change with the times.

That’s the strategy at Blakeslee Advertising, which recently launched a downsizing and upgrading of space in its 22,000-square foot building at 916 N. Charles St.

Blakeslee ad wizards have roosted there since the Hoover Administration, a recent presser proudly states, and that includes weathering the fallout from the Great Baltimore Fire in 1904, the civil rights era riots of 1968 and the “triumphant rise of the Inner Harbor in the 1980s,” the release says.

“We’ve always been proactive in our approach to business, and that’s what we’re doing with the sale of the Blakeslee Building of Mt. Vernon,” said Blakeslee President Duane LeVine. “There was a time when the production aspect of our business required a lot more space. Beginning in the 80’s with desktop publishing and into the 90’s with digital photography, the production processes got a lot more streamlined. By that time, we had already begun developing our creative assets and talents to become more of a full-service advertising agency. We simply shifted our focus to better reflect the business landscape of the time. And that’s what we’re doing again now.”

Cap Ex Realty Group recently bought the Blakeslee Building in Mt. Vernon and developers Russ Robertson and Howard Sobkov will manage the property.

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Maryland counties have one more month to map out their growth plans and classify zoning designations under four tiers under the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012. The legislation was passed by the General Assembly last session as a way to try to encourage growth in areas with public sewer service.

A recent survey by 1000 Friends of Maryland showed a mixed response thus far, Executive Director Dru Schmidt-Perkins said this week.

“Current projections show Maryland losing over 400,000 acres of rural lands to sprawl development over the next fifteen years. That is a future we simply cannot afford,” said Schmidt-Perkins, in a statement. “This mapping effort is an opportunity for the counties to change that future into one with a stable tax base, thriving agriculture, and clean rivers and streams.”

Schmidt-Perkins cited Charles, Queen Anne’s, and Wicomico Counties as “most at risk of rural development”, with Frederick and Prince George’s next.

Baltimore, Caroline, Kent, and Worcester Counties were lauded for ongoing land preservation efforts along with Allegany and Montgomery Counties.

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TIDBITS: NAI KLNB recently closed on the $2 million sale of a 57,000-square foot warehouse building at 121 Kane Street in the city to Calumet Enterprises. James Caronna, principal for NAI KLNB represented the buyer, and Mike Spedden of MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services represented the seller. The building is located on three acres near Interstate 95 and Canton. It will be fully occupied by Clark Food Service Equipment, a Lancaster, Pa.-based company that provides food service equipment solutions to the senior living, healthcare, high education, general business and hospitality industries … Everyman Theatre will host a farewell party for its beloved, well-worn stage at 1727 N. Charles Street beginning at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8. The theatre will move to its new digs at 315 W. Fayette Street early next year. Workers there were busy this week installing a huge garnet-colored “EVERYMAN” vertical sign this week using a cherry picker … Sources say a new Starbucks coffee may be opening in mid-town soon. The java joint may replace a deli at the corner of St. Paul Place and Saragota Street in the Tremont Hotel, soon to officially become an Embassy Suites property … Calvert Liquors will soon move into a larger space at the Hunt Valley Towne Center. Workers at the suburban shopping center in Cockeysville are busy constructing a new, stand-alone building for the liquor store on property that recently was part of the towne center’s parking lot… Officials of Johns Hopkins University recently ousted KBE Building Corp. and its minority contractor Ram Contracting Services from a $43 million project to build a new charter school at the 88-acre East Baltimore Development Inc. site in Middle East. In place is now the Whiting Turner Contracting Co. Sources said the move was made because KBE and Ram Contracting were nearly three months behind schedule at the 7-acre site. Hopkins officials are the leading operators for the new school, now called Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School. The K-8 school is expected to open in the 2013-14 school year.

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