The spice of city life

2b

April 15, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Nothing bursts the New Urbanite bubble like a little burrito smell.

Lots of yuppies who grew up on quiet cul-de-sacs have moved to lively cities, where they can walk to restaurants and cafes. Sometimes, they discover, they don't even have to leave their apartments to get a whiff of what's cooking.

That was the case at Village Lofts, a 68-condo development near the Johns Hopkins University featuring granite countertops, designer lighting and the unmistakable aroma of Chipotle, the restaurant on the ground floor.

At least the bouquet filling the upscale units - "from the high $200s" - wasn't wafting from some lowly taco stand. While Chipotle food is fast, it's made with (some) organic beans and no-growth-hormone, antibiotic-free meats. But "Food With Integrity" is still food with smell.

So a couple weeks ago, just a few months after opening, the restaurant reworked its ventilation system.

"We had to rearrange some vents so the smell of food wouldn't be floating through the condos," said Rodney Mauzone, a manager.

That set the company back - who knows how much? Chipotle's corporate spokesman wouldn't say. Similarly mum was developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, whose reps weren't interested in talking about Chipotle odor - even Chipotle odor that was all gone now and not bothering anybody or scaring off any buyers.

I did find someone willing to chat about new urbanites and odd smells: John McIlwain, senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute.

"Cities are just full of all of these kinds of things where people overlap with each other, and personally, I don't think they should be sanitary areas," he said. "Part of what turns a new development into a real place, not just something that looks like a place, is when people rub up against each other and some unusual smells and unusual people."

That said, the native New Yorker who finds car horns soporific admits cities aren't for everyone.

If you're from the 'burbs, he said, "I'd rent before I bought."

Catholic teachers get a night out

Conventioneers can be a wild bunch, but 8,000 Catholic schoolteachers mostly found tame fun in Baltimore last week while attending the National Catholic Educational Association convention.

They took in a concert - at the Basilica. They enjoyed a "giant 6-foot blowup" of the Baltimore Catechism. But that turned out to be an enlarged book cover, not some sort of religious moon bounce.

But Thursday night was a different story: "NCEA Baltimore Teachers' Night Out ... You've Earned It!"

The event at the Lodge Bar in Power Plant Live was advertised on a flier with the Baltimore archdiocese's nautical insignia on top ("Anchor of Faith, Harbor of Light"), and the logos for Tommy Bahama rum, Michael Collins Irish whiskey, Jagermeister and Tequila Corazon at the bottom.

"Simply show your convention badge at the door for your FREE admission ... that's right, you are a VIP!" it says.

NCEA spokesman Brian Gray said the event was meant to appeal to younger teachers. He added: "There's nothing in Catholic doctrine that says you can't have a drink."

Connect the dots

If Baltimore's weather is as rotten as expected this weekend, don't blame Domenica Davis. She gave her last forecast for WBAL at noon Friday. She's going national, on the Fox News Channel in New York. ... Hanno Beck can attest to the (fleeting) power of the state's top lawyer. Last week, I wrote about how he had filed a complaint with the attorney general's office in an effort to halt Examiner deliveries to his Catonsville home. Someone from the AG's consumer protection division had called the Examiner's circulation department on his behalf a few weeks earlier. The AG's office phoned the Examiner again Wednesday, the day the column appeared. The result: Thursday, no paper; Friday, paper. ... I'm not trying to compete with Dan Rodricks here, but I'd like to hook a guy up with a job. He's got loads of experience. No criminal record. And work ethic? Just ask how he's enjoying retirement. "I hate it. I hate it. I hate it," William Donald Schaefer, 85, told me recently. "I'm not doing anything." What about that office he's renting from Ed Hale? Isn't the ex-comptroller/ex-guv/ex-Baltimore mayor keeping busy there? "I go down there, sit down there, look out the windows." Somebody out there in business or government needs to step up and turn Mayor Devoid into Mayor Redeployed. And Do It Now!

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