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Inside City Hall: Vegas, here we come

Mayor Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Jack Young will lead a contingent of aides and development officers to “Sin City” for an international real estate bash

Above: The stamping ground for real estate developers next week – and Baltimore politicians.

Remember last year’s wedding of super-lobbyists Lisa Harris Jones and Sean Malone that was officiated at the Las Vegas Mandarin Oriental Hotel by their good friend and Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake?

Nothing so memorable is expected during next week’s pilgrimage by the mayor and nine other city officials to “Sin City” to attend the annual assembly of developers and retailers sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The Global Retail Real Estate Convention, a highlight of City Hall’s spring travel season and the place for politicians to mingle with real estate bigwigs far from home, will take place Sunday through Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Rawlings-Blake is scheduled to leave Baltimore on Sunday and stay an extra day, returning next Thursday, according to information disclosed in this week’s Board of Estimates agenda.

The mayor will be traveling with Colin Tarbert, her newly-promoted chief of economic development (replacing Kaliope Parthemos, elevated to chief of staff). A detective from the Baltimore Police executive protection service will arrive in Vegas a day earlier, secure a rental car and travel back with the mayor.

The mayor’s trip will cost $5,028, according to travel requests filed by her office and the police department.

Promoting the City

Rawlings-Blake’s spokesman Kevin Harris was asked yesterday what would be the mayor’s top priority at the gathering. Would she be wooing retail chains to fill the empty blocks of Howard Street? Clamoring for condos to house the 10,000 new families promised to “grow” the city? Harris has not yet responded.

Last year, the mayor’s objective (other than tying the knot for lovebirds Jones and Malone amid a bevy of local and state politicians) was described as “promoting the city as an attractive place to locate or expand.” At an earlier convention, she reportedly persuaded Klein’s ShopRite to locate a grocery store in Howard Park.

Also attending this year’s gathering will be Baltimore’s No. 2 elected official, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, and his aide, Carolyn Blakeney. Also in tow will be Edward Reisinger, vice president of the City Council, and Carl Stokes, head of the  taxation and economic development committee.

(Because the Mayor and Council President will be in Nevada – and City Solicitor George Nilson will be in Anchorage, Alaska, at an International Municipal Lawyers Association seminar – next week’s Board of Estimates meeting will be “recessed” or canceled.)

BDC Staffers Minus Their Chief

The Baltimore Development Corp. is fielding three staffers in Vegas, according to the convention’s on-line attendance list – senior development director Leon Pinkett (soon to transfer to the mayor’s office), Kristina Williams of the Main Streets program, and William Beckford, director of commercial revitalization.

BDC president and CEO Brenda McKenzie said she will forgo this year’s meeting but has an agenda for her staff.

“We are exploring multiple opportunities for neighborhood and downtown retailers and retail or mixed-use development venues,” she said in an email, adding, “Given the collective buying power in Baltimore, there is significant unmet demand for quality retail development and new stores.”

Travel, meals and lodging for the 10 city attendees will amount to about $16,000. The exact amount cannot be determined because some of the costs are paid by the BDC and not publicly reported.

Among the real estate professionals ready to enjoy the hospitality suites and after-hour parties are Mark Sapperstein, co-developer of Canton Crossing; Jon Laria, lawyer for Under Armour and Wal-Mart; Mark Kerrigan of McDonald’s Maryland; Kim Martini of Harbor Point’s Armada Hoffler; and David Bramble, who recently purchased the Pemco site near the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Also in the mix, according to the on-line attendees’ list – Kira Paterakis, granddaughter of Harbor East developer John Paterakis; J. Scott Plank, ex-Under Armour executive turned “War Horse” developer; and Blake Cordish, son of the Maryland Live! casino owner David Cordish.

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