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Top 5: ‘…like a Hail Mary pass’

A small Baltimore news website met its fundraising goal… and then some, and Hunt Valley-based AAI Corp. laid off nearly 200 employees this week. Those stories and more in this week’s business top 5.

1. Cross Keys sale appears near – by Melody Simmons

The sale of The Village of Cross Keys in North Baltimore to an Olney-based developer is under negotiation and could close as early as March, sources close to the pending deal said Tuesday.

General Growth Properties Inc., which put the upscale shopping center on the market last summer after it emerged from bankruptcy protection, is finalizing the sale to the Carl M. Freeman Companies for an undisclosed price, sources said.

2. AAI lays off 184 in Hunt Valley – by Maria Zimmerman

AAI Corp., a Hunt Valley-based aerospace and defense company, laid off 184 employees Tuesday at its Baltimore County location as part of a 217-person, companywide reduction.

The cuts are affecting all levels of employees across all divisions of AAI and are part of an effort “to become even more cost-competitive in the current environment,” said company spokeswoman Sharon Corona.

3. Maryland’s I-95 travel plazas to be replaced in public-private partnership – by Nicholas Sohr

A Miami-based company will spend $56 million to redesign and rebuild the state’s aging travel plazas on Interstate 95 under a deal approved Monday by the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Under the public-private partnership, or “P3,” the state will continue to own the facilities and expects to collect more than $400 million in revenue from Areas USA MDTP over the course of its 35-year lease.

4. Fundraising success for niche news website Baltimore Brew – by Maria Zilberman

Some days, Fern Shen worried.

In 2009, the 25-year Baltimore resident and former Washington Post and Evening Sun reporter used a financial contribution from a family member to launch Baltimore Brew, a news website that covers greater Baltimore.

Until starting an online fundraising campaign in December through a website called Kickstarter, Shen had sustained the Brew on modest advertising revenue and volunteers.

5. Developer wants $41M PILOT to lure Exelon to the harbor – by Melody Simmons

As Exelon Corp. officials said Thursday they expect to staff the corporation’s newly merged Baltimore organization by late May, the Baltimore Development Corporation board voted on a request for $41 million in tax incentives to help a developer build a potential new headquarters for the energy giant.

The BDC’s board voted in closed session, said President M.J. “Jay” Brodie, who declined to give the outcome of the vote.