Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Closing in Eldersburg - Peebles

This is not coming as a shocker to anyone. What is the shocker is that Peebles remained opened for as long as it did.

How could a store of Peebles' caliber stay in a ghetto dead mall like that? You may poo-poo Peebles, but the quality of their merchandise is probably comparable to that of J.C. Penney's. Can you imagine a J.C. Penney's in Carrolltown Mall? Of course not!

Here's a picture of Peebles on a really busy day.

So, who are the main tenants of Carrolltown Mall now? There's the ghetto K-Mart that never has any cash registers open and you have to pay at the customer service desk. This is probably not true ALL of the time, but it certainly has been true several times that I have visited.

There's the Dollar General with cluttered aisles that smells like hell. The only time we went in there my kids made me get out of their because it reeked of toxic plastics.

Then there's the Big T's. It's a Big Lots during the day, but when it gets dark and the lights come on, it's all about the Big T's!!! If you go there, you'll be disappointed. Not only if you're looking for Big T's, but also because the merchandise is questionable. I once bought some food there and there were mites in it. I was too embarrassed to go back and admit that I bought food there.

Finally, there are some odds and end stores and organizations, like some sort of Freedom Church, the Blockbuster (which I have no clue as to why they're still open), some fitness center, a Zumba place, and the area's largest retailer of NFL merchandise. That's not saying much in Eldersburg. But that's how they advertise it.

So with Peebles gone, what's going to happen? My prediction is that the owner, Owings Mills-based Black Oak Associates, is busy doing nothing. I could be wrong, but they haven't done anything in the past few years to convince me otherwise.

So long, Peebles!

Owings Mills - Lyon's Mill Road Widening

Have you been down Lyon's Mill Road in Owings Mills lately? It sure looks like the county is getting ready to widen it between Marriottsville Road and Owings Mills Boulevard. Remember when that was a quaint country road? No more! Down with bucolic!

There are sediment barriers planted in the middle of everyone's yards on the north side of the road. All of the trees have been removed. Some of those trees looked like they were 100 years old. I saw one trunk of a tree being hulled out on a big flat-bed truck. That was all that was in the bed of the truck and all that would fit. It was huge! It was probably about 6 feet wide.

New telephone polls are now going up about 20 feet farther back from the road. This could only mean one thing - Baltimore County hates trees! Oh, I mean they are widening the road.

I'm very excited. We'll now have a 4 lane boulevard that's as wide as a highway with a 30 mph speedlimit. Does that make any sense? Most of the people that I know that drive that road go about 65 mph. I usually do about 40 mph. Normally people tailgate me, flick their high-beams, and shake their fists at me to go faster. There sure are some mean old women in this town!

So the next time your going this way, check it out. Let me know what you think.

This was a week or so ago - before the trees got cut down, but you can see that the branches have been removed. Note the sediment barriers in their yards.

Secretary of State Martin O'Malley

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is at it again! He is off gallivanting around the globe again all in the name of moving Maryland forward. And if O'Malley thinks that padding his résumé for higher office moves Maryland forward, then it's mission accomplished!

You'll remember last year O'Malley took a contingent to Asia to help foster economic relations with countries in that region. The running joke was that O'Malley was preparing to be a future Secretary of State. Or was he trying to get some foreign relations experience for when he succeeds Barbara Mikulski as U.S. Senator from Maryland when she retires in 200 years?

This time, O'Malley took a contingent of about 100 people, many of them government officials, to India for a 10-day trip. He claims that more than half of them are paying their way. What about the other half? Are we, the tax-payers of Maryland, footing this bill? Is he robbing from the Transportation Fund to pay for this trip? Is this why he needs to raise the gas tax by another 15 cents?

So how much could this trip to India cost the tax-payers of Maryland? I looked on for flights from BWI to Mumbia. The cheapest flight is $1,755 round-trip. He says the majority of the delegation paid their own way. Let's assume that the State of Maryland paid for 49 people (that's less than half of 100 people). That's nearly $86,000. The cheapest hotel rooms on are $192 per night. For 49 rooms for 10 nights, that's $94,000. Perhaps O'Malley has everyone shacked up with another person (ignoring whether they are of the same sex or opposite sex), that's $47,000. So with the flight and room we're looking at about $150,000.

Rental cars - how are they getting around? Train? A giant limo? A bus? An elephant? I dunno. If they are renting cars, they could get a 4-seat car for $358 for the week. Let's assume they'll need 25 cars for 10 days, that's $358/7 days = $51 per day times 25 cars x 10 days, that's $12,750. Did I do the math correctly?

Food? What are they going to eat? Compliments of India? I couldn't find information on the cost of dining. Actually, I lied. I didn't even look it up. No ambition. But it's going to cost us. I think that's safe to say.

So all in all, we as tax-payers are probably looking at about $175,000 for flight, hotel, and travel expenses. We'll need to add in more money for food and souvenirs. I bet there are 4 former state employees who wish they still had a job. But instead this money is being spent on the global economy.

I'm not poo-pooing the trip. I hope it generates business for Maryland companies, the few of them that are left. But I think it's always good to know what it's costing us as tax-payers to help O'Malley make a bigger name for himself.

By the way, Governor, can you pick up some Tikki Ki Chaat for me while you're there? Thanks!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chick Fil-A Coming to Eldersburg?

Facebook is swirling with rumors that Chick-Fil-A is coming to Eldersburg. I have heard various versions of this rumor for a couple of years, but the chatter seems to be a bit more than previous times.

One previous rumor was that Chick-Fil-A was going to move into the new Liberty Exchange, just west of Route 32 on Route 26. I think the only tenants of that new complex are doctors offices and places that offer services, not retailers and food chains.

The new rumor has Chick-Fil-A building on the vacant lot at the corner of Route 32 and Barthalow Road, just across the street from the Chili's. I can't imagine a fast food restaurant going on this plot, as it will definitely generate a lot of traffic. Barthalow turns and makes a steep incline just past this plot as it goes towards Liberty High School. I would imagine that the best way to manage traffic would be to make an ingress right, egress right entrance on Barthalow, and the same type of entrance on Route 32. This means that as you leave, you would not be able to turn left back onto Barthalow to get onto Route 32. You'd have to go towards the high school For the Route 32 entrance, since it's a divided road at that point, perhaps they could share a driveway with the funeral home on the plot next to them.

Here's the purported corner:

What would be the impact of a Chick-Fil-A in Eldersburg? I think you can say goodbye to the Arby's. Has anyone eaten there in the past 5 years? We stopped going there when they reduced the roast beef sandwiches to children-sized rolls and one thin slice of roast beef. What about KFC? They already lost their tenant of A&W. I've been to KFC twice in the past couple of years and they didn't have any chicken cooked. Hello! Your primary business is chicken! You must always have chicken!

I think the other restaurants are safe. What do you think? And are these rumors true?

Former Eldersburg Arby's???

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Night at Wal-Mart

A week or two ago my wife asked if I would go to Wal-Mart at midnight and get some junk for the kids for Christmas. I said, "sure". Then I thought about it and realized that I would need to get in line for a few hours as those specials go fast, so you must get there early. Then it dawned on me yesterday morning - I'd be in line at the same time that the Ravens' game was going on. Crap!!! What did I get myself into?

So I left my house at 8:15 pm to go to the Wally-World in Eldersburg. So that I could wait in line for 3 1/2 hour. What the hell am I thinking? I brought my book (The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas - I've been reading this book since the end of the summer. It's 1400 pages long and I'm on page 1040.) I also brought a bottle of water.

I got there around 8:30 and the parking lot was about 1/3 full. I had to weave through the barricade that they set up. It was fortified enough to stop the Allied invasion at Normandy. But could it withstand the Randallstown invasion???

I scouted for the products I wanted, but soon learned that you had to get in line for one product and stay there the ENTIRE time. Okay, so I was only going to get one item. I picked one, got the voucher (I was number 5) and got in line. There were 3 ladies in front of me and some older hillbilly with a Fu Manchu and a ponytail. I sat down and started reading my book. I was half listening to the ladies biddying back and forth. They were planning out their entire weekend. There was no sleep in their plans. 'After here, we'll go there, then we'll go here and then we'll go here.' More power to them. It sounded as if they were going to spend $5,000 over the 4 day weekend, but they were going to save over $400 getting stuff they really don't need.

After a while Karl (the name I'm giving the Fu Manchu in front of me) starts making conversation. He's got a bottle of water and a big tankard with a straw in it. What's in that thing? His voice is a bit husky and his speech is slow. Reminds me of Karl from Slingblade. I'm just waiting for this guy to say, "Gonna get me some French fried taters."

He tells me that he's a framer (builds houses and such). The following are the conversations and statements that he made the rest of the evening.

Yep, I'm a framer. I can do it all, wood, metal, electric, white rock. Yep. 'cept I ain't licensed. Sometimes they come in and make you tear it all up if you ain't licensed. 's not like I can't do it. It's all good.

I been workin' at my Church. Built out a daycare over one weekend. 'spectors came in and didn't believe we could do it all in a weekend. (I couldn't comprehend the rest of the conversation).

I like my Church. I can come in dressed like this (sweatshirt and jeans). Sometimes I come in with a bandanna on. Sometimes I come in without a bandanna. Don't make no difference.

I was planning on goin' to my buddy's for Thanksgiving today, but he passed out. So I didn't go over there.

I'm gettin' hungry. Gotta big plate of ham in my truck. It's a BIG plate of ham. Might go get me some of that.

Livin' with my mama right now. Tryin' to help her out, get everything situated. My brothers is both married. I'm tryin' to get divorced, so I been helpin' out my mama. She's got a crawlspace under her house. (the last sentence seems a bit innocuous, except that that was the last sentence of that part of the conversation. I have no idea where that was going.)

You got any kids?
Yes, three kids.
How old are they?
Twelve, nine, and four.
(confused look on his face). How old are you?
Hell, I's thought you's my age. (Gee....thanks a lot!!!) I gots kids in their 20's. They gots kids of their own. I got......2 grandkids.......yeah, 2. They are 11, no....9, uh...9 and 8. No, .......9.......9 and 7,.......sorry, they's 9 and 4.

My kids keep calling me said they busted up a room and need my help fixin' it up. So I gotta send 'em 500 bucks so they can fix up their room.

I'm goin' to Texas soon. Goin' down 95 to Florida, gotta buddy gonna take me fishin. He's got one of them charter boats. Take me out and catch some sail fish. It's a good deal. Then I'm gonna take I-10 and go down Texas and see my other buddy. Gonna take like a month and a half off, but I'll be back by Christmas. Got me a real good job where I can just say I'm takin' off and be back later. Work for and with my brother.

(while I'm reading my book) I babysat this girl for 30 days once cuz her daddy was in jail. That girl could read. She could read that whole book in like 2 days.

Think I might get a printer, too. If I'd a brought more cards (credit cards), I coulda got some ink, too. But I didn't bring any more cards.

They allowed 15 minute bathroom breaks. You had to exchange your voucher for a bathroom pass, then get your bathroom pass back when you returned. Karl uses this opportunity to go get his ham, or smoke some weed or something. The lady in front of him comes back and hands me a Diet Coke. I thank her profusely and offer to pay her for it. "No, no!!! It's the least we can do since you've been occupying that guy for several hours. If it weren't for you he'd be talking to us! And he's crazy!!!"

Karl takes his break, gets a sub at Subway, comes back. 10 minutes before midnight, one of the Wal-Mart guys walks though the line and asks if everyone has their voucher because he still had one in his possession that wasn't claimed.
Karl, I think that might be yours.
(slurred and stumbling and weaving back and forth at this point) Hell, I gots mine right here in my pocket. (pulls it out and unfolds it)
That's a bathroom pass. I don't think they're going to let you exchange a bathroom pass for a laptop.
Hell, they better give me back my voucher. Been waiting here since 8, after 8.
Sir, I think that voucher belongs to this gentleman here.
Sir, is this yours?
Hell, yeah that's mine. Been waiting here since 'for 8. I ain't standing line all this time just to be told I ain't gettin' no laptop. I know how to raise hell. My mama's house is worth $450,000, so I knows I can make bail. (good Lord!!!)
Okay, sir. Here's your voucher.

At midnight the line moves forward and he hands the Wal-Mart clerk his voucher.
Here you go, sir.
I need 2. have one voucher, that entitles you to one laptop.
What the hell???!!! I stood in line for nearly 5 hours and I ain't gettin' another laptop. Damn it!

Karl and departed at this point. I run into a friend who says that he had to park at Shoppers because the Wal-Mart parking lot is absolutely full. I move on to the cash registers and spend another 30 minutes waiting to check out. Good grief. I hope it was worth it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Metro Center at Owings Mills - Finally Underway?

I noticed a large crane in the western parking lot of the Owings Mills Metro Center. Could it be? Would the acres of broken promises for redevelopment finally be under way? We moved to the area in 1999 and we were told then that it was going to get started real soon. As the French narrator says on Sponge Bob Square Pants, "Twelve years later...."

The Metro Center at Owings Mills has been touted by several Baltimore County Executives as the key to revitalization and economic growth for northwest Baltimore County. I'm pretty sure Dutch Ruppersburger was all excited about it in the late 90's. Jim Smith in the 2000's. Now Kevin Kamenetz is hoping to put this on his resume' for his future run for Governor. This was the project that was going to bring hundreds of temporary migrant construction jobs held by Hispanics, and later dozens of of permanent entry-level service jobs for everyone else.

So what is going to be constructed on this site? I have heard hopes of an Owings Mills library branch, an Owings Mills education center of the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, some mixed use office space, a hotel, 4 more parking garages, and more residential housing.

I totally agree with the library. I think the closest library is on Liberty Road. Trust me, that's a scary part of town. It would be great to have a new library in this location with all the modern amenities. The education center is a good idea, as well. Currently they occury an old building at the corner of Painter's Mill Road and Dolfield Road. Residential housing? As my kids said about the houses built at the mall, "Who would want to live at the mall?" I now ask, "Who would want to live in the middle of a mixed-use office, retail, and education complex attached to the Baltimore Metro Subway system? Maybe some people do. I sure don't.

Another hotel? Aren't there 3 hotels in Owings Mills already? Perhaps there's a need for another one. More mixed office space? T. Rowe Price just built 2 buildings a couple of years ago that sit vacant. There are the four buildings of the Owings Mills Corporate Center. There are a lot of buildings dotting Red Run Boulevard. And to think that Baltimore City can't fill any of the buildings downtown. Can you say over-inflated urban property taxes?

So, like the other major projects in various stages of planning and development in Owings Mills, will this one be done as planned, or will it be scaled down and delayed and disappoint everyone? What do you think?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Owings Mills Mall - Auf Wiedersehen!

Owings Mills Mall co-owners General Growth Properties and Kimco Realty announced last week that the best thing to do with the mall is to tear it down. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will disagree with that.

As I stated yesterday, Owings Mills has a lot of changes that they're promising. The problem is, these promises are so easy to break. Kimco and GGP said they plan to start demolition of the mall in 2013 - an entire year from now. So unfortunately, it looks like the best thing we can expect out of that mall is the annual Owings Mills Carnival which camps out in the parking lot. And if next year's carnival is as much of a bloody good time as it was this year, it will be awesome....for police and media types.

The mall has been declining for years. It opened in 1986 (I think). Only 25 years later they are tearing it down to try and make it more like the mall in Hunt Valley. When the mall opened it was featured as an upper-class mall. There was a Saks 5th Avenue and other high-end retailers. I saw a great comment on Facebook that said, "When the mall opened they said there would never be a Radio Shack in this mall. They opened a Radio Shack a few years later. I blame the downfall of the mall on Radio Shack." Other major big box department stores have come and gone - Lord & Taylor, Boscov's, Sears, while a few remain -Macy's, J.C. Penney, and International Furniture Liquidators.

What changes contributed to the downfall of the mall? When the mall opened, it pretty much was out in the middle of nowhere. The Owings Mills subway stop was right next to it. Robbers quickly took advantage of the close proximity of public transportation to grab and go. The subway didn't get the nickname of "The Mugger Mover" for nothing!

Additionally, as the area of Owings Mills grew, the demographics changed dramatically. Thousands of low-income apartments, town houses, and condominiums were built that brought in people that couldn't afford the high-priced stores in the mall. They wanted dollar stores and Wal-Mart's. And with those lower-income residents naturally brings in more crime. The previous more affluent residents of Owings Mills, of which many had fled to Owings Mills a generation before from the City, now fled to the ex-burbs of Westminster, Eldersburg, and Hanover, Pennsyltucky.

So will this renovation of Owings Mills Mall actually occur? If so, will it actually begin in 2013? Or is it more likely that it will happen in 2023? I could totally see the mall turning into a giant indoor regional flee market.

And as my children said when they built these houses in the parking lot of Owings Mills Mall, "Why would anyone want to live in the parking lot of a mall?" Sounds like a logical question to me!

I didn't want to steal these pictures, so here are some interesting links of the mall from the 1980's. If you live in the area or work there, you'll notice a lot of the places that aren't there yet - like OM Blvd not going all the way through to Lyon's Mill, or all of the development around Food Lion on Lakeside Blvd, the absence of all the businesses on Red Run Boulevard. Fascinating stuff!

Here is a montage of photos of the mall that you can look back and enjoy in another 25 years. I expect to see comments in the year 2025, "Hey, I remember Macy's! I used to rob that place all the time!" Is this a dead mall or what???

Monday, November 21, 2011

Owings Mills - Wegman's?

Owings Mills is planning on a lot of changes in the next couple of years. This is a good thing considering the rapid decline from a once chic suburban neighborhood to a crime ridden giant police blotter.

So what are these up and coming changes? There's the Owings Mills Metro Station which has been in various stages of planning and construction for the past 10 years. Baltimore County used the mantra of "leave some construction equipment in the parking lot and make it look like something's going to happen soon". Anyone who has used the subway knows that it has been a vacant lot of economic stagnation for a long time.

The owners of Owings Mills Mall recently announced they were going to tear down the failed and nearly vacant mall and going to try to imitate Hunt Valley. Often imitated. Never duplicated. Isn't the empty parking lot of the Owings Mills Mall the largest asphalt heat absorber in Baltimore County?

Finally, there is the Solo Cup factory, formerly the Sweetheart Cup factory. Solo came in and bought the company, then abandoned the Owings Mills facility, moving a few jobs to Chicago. Anyone surprised? Shouldn't be. This is what happens when companies in Maryland get taken over. Just watch and see how this Constellation merger goes.

Wegman's recently announced that they want to occupy the former plastic cup factory and build one of their high-end stores. It sounds kind of silly because Owings Mills is not a high-end kind of neighborhood. Just ask the Pikesville barracks of the Baltimore County Police Department.

What do you think of Wegman's possibly coming to Owings Mills? I say possibly because it's not a done deal. It still has to be rezoned. That could take years. As fast as things move through the system in Baltimore County, I expect the Wegman's to be built in 2019. I seriously doubt it will happen on Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz' watch. Am I being cynical? Does a cynic point out that the factory lost almost 600 jobs, but Kamenetz is excited that the new Wegman's will employee 600 minimum-waged cashiers? Perhaps. Others may just call me a realist.

Changes coming to Owings Mills? I'll believe it when I see it.

This is the southern building of the Solo Cup Factory as viewed from the upper deck of the Owings Mills Metro parking garage.

Notice the empty parking lot. Not many tax dollars being generated here.

This is the northern building of the Solo Cup factory on Reisterstown Road, again as seen from the upper deck of parking garage.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

O'Malley Wants You to Pay 64% More In Gas Taxes

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, never one to shy away from more taxes, is reviewing a menu of taxes increases proposed by his own "Blue Ribbon" commission to close the state's structural deficit that he created. The tax increases include a nearly 64% increase in the gas tax (raising it from 23.5 cents per gallon to 38.5 cents gallon), increasing car registration fees by 50%, and bus and rail fee increases.

Why so many surprising new taxes? Ha-ha. These aren't surprising. Every logical thinking person knew that if O'Malley got elected he would ratchet-up state spending and raid the Transportation Fund to pay for it (because he could do that). He would then go back to the voters whining and crying how we have no money to fix bridges and roads, but if we could all do our fair share and accept massive tax increases, then our investments would be worth it.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of our elected officials raiding the Transportation Fund to pay for their pet projects. Republican Bob Ehrlich did it. I believe former Governor and New York-born Paris "My Wife is My Son's Age" Glendening did it. Martin O'Malley certainly has done it.

These tax proposals, which are all but sure to be passed by the short-sighted Maryland General Assembly, would raise an estimated $870 million annually, that is until they raise the taxes even more. And that's not all that unrealistic. The state wants to spend another $12 BILLION on more transportation projects. I don't think this includes replacing bridges and paving roads. This is additional spending: Purple Line in D.C. suburbs, the Red Line in Baltimore, etc...

And what's with this "Blue Ribbon" designation? Just throw some fancy adjectives in front of your commissions' name and make it sound more important? If you appoint the members, aren't they pretty much going to do what you tell them to do? "I appointed a Blue Ribbon Commission to determine who the most awesome political blogger is. Much to my surprised, they picked me!" "I appointed a Blue Ribbon commission to evaluate state spending and what to do about funding the depleted Transportation Fund and they recommended massive regressive tax increases that will hurt lower and middle income families the most."

So how many more years of O'Malley? How many more taxes can he raise? If you're keeping track, he's raised the sales tax by 20%, he pushed for massive fee increases to use the state's bridges and tunnels, a 50% increase in the alcohol tax, the cigarette tax increase, a 50% increase in many of the fishing and hunting license fees (which O'Malley said was a modest increase). The funny thing about the increase in fishing license fees is that after the state increased the fee, fewer fisherman applied for the annual license and the state actually took in LESS revenue.

So here we go again. More taxes. More O'Malley. There's many more things he could tax, I guess. So I guess I better stop complaining. I will go pump up the tires in my bike now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kevin Kamenetz Must Read VoteNoMalley

I have determined that Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz reads my blog. Why do I think that?

You'll recall in July I registered a complaint against Mr. Kamenetz because the roads in Owings Mills are a mess. Since they were not being repaired, the only logical conclusion was that he hates Owings Mills.

Much to my surprise yesterday, I saw that Red Run Boulevard was being repaved in front of the doomed Owings Mills Mall. My new assumption is that the Baltimore County government either wants to make the road smoother for criminals to get into and out of the mall for their holdups and burglaries. OR - they want to make it easier for the police to get into and out of the mall so that they can write up the police reports for people that reported being held-up and burglarized.

Regardless, you no longer need a Hummer H2 to get from Owings Mills Boulevard to Painters Mill Boulevard via Red Run Boulevard. It's now nice and smooth. Just like Martin O'Malley's spine. Now if they'd only add a sidewalk....

Martin O'Malley Hates Lower Taxes

If you missed it, Martin O'Malley was on one of the Sunday talk shows blithering and complaining about everyone else, while touting how wonderful he is.

This is nothing new, except that some bozo came him a national stage to spew his leftist, closed-minded beliefs. In this piece he says the Tea Party are pandering to GOP extremists or radicals or some other derogatory term for someone who doesn't have the same beliefs as him.

So Tea Party supporters are now in bed with extremists? What is the Tea Party's agenda? (Note that the Tea Party has an agenda, while the Occupy (insert city) does not.) The Tea Party's main agenda is to cut taxes and the government should cut spending. Now that's a radical right-wing agenda!!!!

Martin O'Malley, on the other hand, seems to want the government to spend billions of dollars to create hundreds of jobs. That's mainstream? Am I taking crazy pills? Or is Martin O'Malley pandering to the Socialists of his party?

Marty, stop complaining and start listening to Marylanders. We want lower taxes and less government spending!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Just Pictures Saturday

I have nothing to say today, so enjoy these pictures of old cars. I took these pictures at the Kingsville Parade on the 4th of July this year. I probably took 100 pictures. I might as well share them, right?

I can't determine what year this truck is. Since Cappy Cleaners has been around since 1944, I thought it would be a 1944 Dodge Panel Truck. However, I am unable to locate a picture of one, so I cannot confirm. If any of you car enthusiasts know, please let me know.

This is a 1931 Ford Roadster. Pretty cool car.

This is a 1926 Buick Sedan. My grandparents were children when these cars rolled off of the assembly line.

New to Eldersburg: Signature Salon & Spa

I noticed this new place when I took my kids to Osaka Hibachi Grill tonight to celebrate their great report cards. I think previously this location was a hair salon. I know they sold shampoos and conditioners as they stacked them up by the window. I don't recall what the name of the previous store was called.
This new store called Signature Salon & Spa has the windows papered up, so they're not ready to open yet. If you're into this kind of place, keep a lookout for when they open.

UPDATE: The previous tenant was named Final Touch. I can tell with this new picture that I took during the day. The weather stains from the previous name are still evident on the fascia.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Coming to Eldersburg: Jin's Asian Bistro

You'll recall that the Classic Thai restaurant in the Oklahoma Center in Eldersburg closed. I'm happy to report that this space is going to be filled by a new restaurant. This time it is going to be called Jin's Asian Bistro. I Googled the name and didn't find anything, so I'm not sure of the details. Is this a new Thai restaurant? Is it owned by the same people? Will it still be a front for organized crime (which was purely speculation since no one ever went to Thai Classic).

I'll let you know when the new restaurant opens.

Happy Veteran's Day

Thank you to all of the underpaid and overworked members of our armed services, past and present. Your contribution to our country is more than any overpaid oversexed politician's.

For the record, Martin O'Malley never served in the armed services.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Relocated in Eldersburg: Glazed To Perfection

If you've ever been to the Glazed To Perfection store in Peddler's Square in Eldersburg, you know how cool this place is. You go in, pick a ceramic piece that you like, then you pick the colors you want to use to paint it, then you paint it. When you're done, the item gets put in the queue. When the queue if full, they fire it for you. When it's done, they'll call you and you come pick it up and pay for it.

Glazed to Perfection is a great place for kid parties. It's a cool place to go and be creative.

You can imagine my surprise and disappointment this week when I drove by and noticed that the sign was gone and the windows papered up. I took a picture and was fully ready to write another disappointing article about how another business closed. On another journey, I saw that the old Curves place in Monroe Station had a new occupant, so I drove back to take a picture of the new business. To my surprise that new occupant is....Glazed to Perfection!

So rather than reporting a loss of business, I am happy to report that Glazed to Perfection just moved. This store location has been a video store, Curves for Women, and now Glazed to Perfection. I think it was something before the video store, but that was before I started taking an active interest in the town.

So here's to Glazed to Perfection! Stop by and check out their new location.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

O'Malley: Constellation Merger - Rate Cuts for Job Cuts

Baltimore-based Constellation Energy has been in talks with Chicago-based Exelon Corporation to merge the companies. What this means for Constellation (and pretty much any Maryland company that is merger talks), is that Exelon will be taking the lead, moving jobs to another state, and pretty much destroying another hometown company.

I believe Constellation Energy is the largest utility in Maryland. Exelon is one of the largest energy producers in the country, based in business-friendly Chicago, Illinois. Do you ever hear people griping about how many companies keep moving to Chicago? If so, it ain't coming from people who live in Chicago.

In order for the Maryland Public Service Commission (the Maryland regulatory agency stacked with O'Malley lackies) to approve the merger, Governor Martin O'Malley is demanding a rate decrease for current BGE customers. Constellation Energy is the parent company of BGE.

A skyline of future business that will merge out of state.

So basically what Martin O'Malley is saying is that he will approve the destruction of more Maryland jobs from hard-working middle class people in order to save a few dollars for consumers. He usually demands rate cuts when he's ready to run for office. With a couple of years left on his gubernatorial office, I can only suspect that he's laying the foundation for his run for Barbara Mikulski's U.S. Senate seat. He can then say that he fought big corporate greed. Let's ignore the fact that he fought it by using extortion.

So what are the impacts to the merger of Constellation with an out-of-town company? First, I'm not sure if O'Malley realizes this or not, but allowing Constellation to be absorbed and thus be a former Baltimore-based company, he will lose some of his ability to directly punish Constellation at a whim. Maryland politicians will lose some of their ability to hold Constellation to the fire when they need a bone in their reelection war chest. No longer will elected officials have it as easy as they do now to say, "I need to be reelected. Let's punish BGE\Constellation for .....not restoring power fast enough during a snow storm that crippled the East Coast. Therefore, I want a rate cut. The consumers will love me for it and reelect me!!!" You cannot deny that this happens.

What is the impact to Baltimore? It's another company that will not be calling Baltimore home. It's a loss of jobs. It's a loss of status. It's a loss of pride. But politicians do not think long-term. They think, "What can I do right now that will make me look good RIGHT now?"

The Baltimore Business Journal reports that as many as 600 jobs will be lost, a loss of jobs that O'Malley doesn't seem to be too concerned about. To help complicate matters, Republican State Senator E.J. Pipkin of Eastern Shore and Democrat State Senator Jim Rosapepe of Prince George's County are now demanding that BGE be spun off into a separately traded company.

Generally I like E.J. Pipkin, but this response is typical of Maryland politicians. It seems like politicians across the Free State hate free market capitalism. Adam Smith be damned, that fool. Stay out of our economy, you British hob-knocking economic theorist! We prefer the heavy hand of government intervention!

What bugs me about Constellation is their perpetual attempt to get bought. They seem to be giving up quicker then the French in a war. Remember when they tried to get acquired by Florida Power and Light? Yeah, FPL gave up on that. Then there is the attempt by the French company Électricité de France S.A. to take a large stake in the company. How ironic is it that a French company is trying to acquire a company that likes to surrender so easily?

Why is there such a feckle drive by Constellation to remain independent? What are they doing wrong? Why do they want to fail? Let's not forget that Constellation is run my Mayo Shattuck III, who made a name for himself by selling Alex. Brown to Deutche Bank, who eventually moved many of those jobs to New York. Now he's getting ready to bust up another Baltimore Company. What a guy!

So ask yourself, what are the long-term benefits of packing up and leaving town? That's easy. The executives will get massive payouts. Millions of dollars! Everyone else? They'll have the pleasure of keeping their job if they're lucky. Executives will also get early retirement. Sure, the others can retire, too, as long as they don't plan on making a dime for the rest of their lives. And finally, like the Ebenezer Scrooges that run Corporate America, it's a gosh-darn fun time to stomp on the working class again!

Contrary to what politicians like Martin O'Malley say, Baltimore and Maryland continue to be unfriendly to businesses. We have a laundry list of companies that decided not to move to Maryland (Merck) have left or have failed (Digene, Duratek, Alex. Brown, Maryland National Bank, Carr-Lowrey, The Rouse Company, Piper Marbury, U.S.F.&G., Broadpoint....). The list goes on and on. And these were just companies that had headquarters in Maryland. What about out-of-state companies that had offices or factories in Maryland? Like General Motors and London Fog. What's next? Legg Mason and Under Armour?

So with this new potential move, we may end up with another abandoned building in Baltimore's skyline. The Central Business District if full of obsolete and abandoned office space. This is a total waste of land for potentially tax-generating properties (that's a topic for another discussion).

Martin O'Malley continues to prove that his business, economic, and energy policies are failures. They are resulting in fewer jobs and fewer choices for consumers, consumers who understand that choices mean lower prices. Despite this, O'Malley is clever enough to spin this as a win, and unfortunately, most Marylanders are too stupid to realize otherwise.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Scott Shellenberger: Tough as Spaghetti

If you've watched the news over the past couple of months you heard about the trial of Walter Bishop, the man accused of being hired to murder William Porter. The murder took place in Baltimore County in Towson at the Hess gas station on Joppa Road.

The jury eventually decided that they were not going to recommend the death penalty, as allowable under the law. I guess the jury decided that paying someone to kill another person, which I think constitutes several layers of premeditation (you have to agree to do it, you have to plan to do it, you do it) aren't enough to hand down the toughest sentence in the land.

I'm not totally shocked. Marylanders love their murderers. How often is someone sentenced to death, let alone actually put to death? Marylanders don't even like to put people away with life sentences. That's just too mean. I think Governor O'Malley loves criminals. He's had a, what, six year study on the death penalty, which amounts to an executive moratorium? That's the worst study ever! If I told my boss that I needed 6 years to make a decision on one of my projects, I would have been summarily fired. Not our Gov. We love his intense indecisiveness.

After the verdict was read, it sounds like Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Schellenberger agrees with the Marty. He said on WBAL that he was not disappointed at the jury's decision. Scott Schellenberger was not disappointed on the jury's extreme leniency? Is it just me? Or do you think that the county's top prosecutor would want to sound a little tougher on crime than that? He could have just come out and said, "Crime doesn't bother me. Just don't get caught. Be rest assured, if you do get caught, we promise not to be too hard on you."

Then on the other hand, Schellenberger went on to sound more like a politician when he said that, "...Bishop deserved the death penalty." How can you not be disappointed that the jury did not recommend the death penalty when you thought that he deserved the death penalty? Is this guy setting himself up to run for Baltimore County Executive or what? I didn't say that I didn't say that. Take both sides of the issues. That's the safe thing to do. Appease everyone while not appeasing anyone. My name is Willy Wishy Washy. And I'm Baltimore County State's Attorney. And I want to be County Executive. Can you hear it now?

Mr. Schellenberger - your view on crime is easy like a Sunday morning.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

That Old Abandoned Farm House in Eldersburg

If you live in Eldersburg and work in the Baltimore suburbs, I'm sure you pass this house every day. You probably notice it more in November when the Hispanics from North Carolina move onto the property to sell Christmas trees. However, during the rest of the year, the house remains as an old abandoned wasting property.

I wasn't able to determine who owns the house. I had heard that the Patton family (of Patton Homes) owns it, but couldn't prove one way or the other. I know they developed the senior living condos near that property.

Regardless, this old farmhouse that was probably built in the late 1800's or early 1900's has not been occupied for several years. The last occupants hill-billied-it up. Lots of furniture on the porch and such. Since then, the house was boarded up, though the boards were put on the inside of the windows, which I think defeats the primary purpose of boarding up a house, which is to protect the glass in the windows.

Anyway, I think that despite this house's dilapidated and sad condition, it does make for an interesting picture. I do hope that the owners decide to restore this house. We're losing too many of the historical characteristics of this county. I'm sure our future Congressman, Chris Van Hollen, will agree. Right, Chris?

H.U.D. Housing in Eldersburg?

Indeed there is. We are one more step to becoming an extension of Randallstown. You know those old brick apartments at the corner of Hemlock Avenue and Liberty Road, catercorner to the Denny's (you know in the 12 years that I've lived in Eldersburg I have never been to that Denny's?)? You may have noticed that they are updating the building. There is a big sign posted on the front lawn proudly informing the good folks of Eldersburg that the work is being done by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more commonly known as HUD.

Well, now you know.

It appears the building is owned by Kuleana Gardens, a company in Pikesville. The building was constructed in 1964 and was sold in September for $650,000.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

New to Randallstown - Custom Sign Store

When I say Randallstown, you normally think about the run-down ghetto stores lining Liberty Road. Dozens, maybe hundreds, if not hundreds of thousdands of run-down, abandoned, and closed businesses line Liberty Road from near Marriottsville Road all the way into Baltimore City. It's a war zone left to fend for itself by the politicians who seem like they are more concerned about winning the election than sensible ecomomic recovery for their districts.

Randallstown, though with its lowly reputation, technically extends all the way to the Carroll County line. Yes, Randallstown, in its truest form, borders Eldersburg. Did I just say that?

In the area of Randallstown west of Lyon's Mill Road lies what some may call the hamlet of Holbrook, probably not named after legendary actor Hal Holbrook. But certainly just as handsome. Are they as lucky? He was married to Dixie Carter.

There are few businesses in this area. There's the former wood furniture place. There's the old gas station from the turn of civilization. There's Ward's Chapel United Methodist Church. And since I moved to Eldersburg in the 1990's - there has been this four-bay building with a roof overhang. I'm not sure what it ever was. Maybe a gas station way back in the day? A service station? If you know, I would be interested in the history.

Anyway, one quarter of this building is now occupied by an entrepreneur who opened the Custom Sign Store. There's not much to their website. But I wish them luck. And so does Martin O'Malley. He wants to tax their revenue!

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