After a decade spent creating his ultimate bachelor penthouse pad, bank executive, developer and Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale is ready to move on and trade even higher up.

For sale: swanky life in the sky

September 07, 2005|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,SUN STAFF

In the lobby of the Anchorage Towers in Canton, someone's swept the coins at the bottom of a burbling fountain into the shape of an anchor.

Clearly that's not where Ed Hale's been throwing his money.

Fourteen flights up in the penthouse, Hale, chief executive officer of 1st Mariner Bank, developer and owner of the Baltimore Blast professional soccer team, has used more than a little of his spare change to create a swank bachelor pad with breathtaking views of the city he has literally worked his way to the top of.

But Hale wants to cash out and trade up. To move just feet down Boston Street into the top of a 17-story office tower he's building there, Hale is selling the condo he spent a decade molding to fit his definition of man-about-town luxury.

At an asking price of $2.275 million, the property is the fourth-most-expensive for sale in Baltimore.

"My mom says to me, `Eddie, why move? Your place is so beautiful, and you only have to drive a mile,'" the entrepreneur says, playfully imitating a worried, maternal tone.

His answer? Because I can, Ma.

And because the new place will be bigger, better, grander -- some of Hale's favorite adjectives and vocabulary words he must have mastered while designing and furnishing his spacious Anchorage quarters.

Behold the custom woodwork, the furniture, rugs and accessories from all corners of the globe.

Behold the art, pastoral paintings in thick, gilded frames that cover nearly every available inch of wall space.

Behold the relentlessly masculine palette, the cognac leathers and dusky walls that evoke an Englishman's library and cleverly mask whatever remains of Hale's Highlandtown patois.

"People think being born in Highlandtown and raised in Edgemere that I'm a wild man and my pedigree's not good," says Hale, who is 58. "But I've always had conservative taste. Always."

The penthouse's least conservative feature is also its most coveted: the view.

It's sheer extravagance, this sweeping Baltimore panorama that Hale's vantage point allows. While most city residents thrill to glimpse specks of skyline or water from rooftop decks, nearly the entire city bows before Hale's two balconies.

The neon lettering of Domino Sugar, M&T Bank Stadium, downtown's skyscrapers and the brick- and Formstone-lined streets of Fells Point and Canton -- all his for the taking.

"I never get tired of it," Hale says. "Whoever comes here is gonna have the same feeling."

Prestigious address

Hale moved into the Anchorage in 1996. He snagged the unit for $500,000 from Baltimore developer Louis Grasmick, who reserved the penthouse for himself when he built the tower but never lived in it.

Hale bid anonymously, figuring, "Every time somebody like me tries to buy a place, they jack the price up."

At the time, before pricey townhouses crowded the shoreline, the building, aside from HarborView tower in South Baltimore, was probably the most prestigious waterfront address.

Yet Hale says the condo he bought was a mess, thanks to young renters who had "trashed it." He also found cheap fixtures, an awkward layout and a bathroom the color of a little girl's lollipop.

"Garish would be the word," he says, joking that he had to rip the "monster hot-pink hot tub" out in a hurry before anyone from the old neighborhood saw and "got the wrong idea."

The only assumption one could glean these days from the penthouse is that testosterone guided its design, an amalgam of Field & Stream, GQ and Buckingham Palace sensibilities.

"It's pretty much my taste," Hale says after a quick walk through its two-story, 3,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, 3 1/2 -bath expanse.

The silly pink tub?

He replaced it with a sleek, black marble, accented it with gold fixtures and strategically hung a few paintings of nudes nearby.

Though the master bedroom isn't huge, a mirrored wall makes it seem more so. The 20-foot living room ceilings need no such amplification.

International decor

Souvenirs from Hale's travels spice up the living areas. A cloisonne vase from Hong Kong. A screen from Japan. A weathered sideboard from Denmark. Rugs everywhere.

"I see things I like and buy them," Hale says matter-of-factly.

It probably wasn't purposeful, but the kitchen screams "bachelor" louder than any room in the house.

Though his real estate agent calls it "gourmet," any cook worth his salt would sniff over the electric stove, the modest cabinet space, the absence of any bells or whistles that Emeril Lagasse would deem worth a "bam."

Glass-fronted cabinets spill the secrets -- cans of soup and tuna, an assortment of dried spaghetti and box after box of Stove Top stuffing.

But after a hard day of wheeling and dealing, when he settles in for the evening with perhaps a nice bowl of Progresso chicken noodle, one room in the house draws Hale like no other.

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