Woody Harrelson bought a Baltimore hotel. What other struggling businesses can we pawn off on celebrities?
To bring the True Detective news cycle to a close, actor Woody Harrelson bought a stake in the Inn at the Black Olive, a boutique hotel in Fells Point. The story was first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal. As the BBJ notes, the 12-suite hotel had been foreclosed upon last June and purchased by First Mariner Bank for $3.9 million at auction. Now Harrelson and banker John “Jack” Dwyer are swooping in with $4.5 million to buy the place, which got us thinking: What other rich and famous people can swoop in with their fortunes to save Baltimore? Pay no mind to Forbes saying “Celebrity Investors (Usually) Are Worthless.”
Business: Video Americain.
This week’s feature (get it Wednesday!) is a lengthy oral history of the video store’s cultural importance and decline in the era of web streaming. We and lots of other people are going to miss it.
Celebrity Financier: Kevin Spacey.
We couldn’t not mention Spacey because he’s the star of House of Cards, the political drama filmed here in town, etc., etc. But hey, this actually is fitting since Netflix, the producer of House of Cards, is one of main players in smothering Video Americain with a pillow. The least its biggest star can do is fork over some dough to keep a truly great collection of cinema together and help out dedicated owners, the Solans.
Business: Lexington Market
As one of his last stories before departing for the Wall Street Journal, Sun reporter Scott Calvert covered the problems, including the open-air drug trade, facing the market, which opened up for business in 1782.
Celebrity Financier: Idris Elba
Because we are also obligated to mention The Wire (low-hanging fruit and such), we’ll include Elba, whose drug kingpin character in the series, Stringer Bell, was way into investing in the West Side of downtown before it was cool. And as we learned from season 1, he is already a patron of Baltimore’s food markets.
Business: The Baltimore Arena
The arena still gets plenty of top-tier acts, but everybody has known for years the aging facility needs to be replaced, including recently deceased Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. CEO Willard Hackerman, who was a key organizer in pushing for a new arena before he died in February.
Celebrity Financier: Hmm, this is a tough one. There aren’t very many people with enough coin to build a whole arena. Or at least that’s what rich dudes want you think when they try to get taxpayers to finance them or threaten to move professional sports franchises if they don’t get their way. Let’s go with Cal Ripken Jr., the legendary Orioles shortstop who once brought an independent league hoops squad to town, the Baltimore BayRunners. Think big, Iron Man.
Business: Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown! You had one job. It was to make sure the health insurance site for the state went smoothly, and whew boy, it has been a complete boondoggle. Now you’ve got Rep. Andy Harris and the feds up your ass about it.
Celebrity Financier: George Clooney
Even though he is no longer Mr. Stacy Keibler, the actor and outspoken advocate for liberal causes surely spent enough time in Maryland while dating Keibler to form a positive impression, maybe even an affection, for the state. And he played a heartthrob doctor with real convictions on E.R., which is pretty much the same as running a health care exchange, right?
Business: Baltimore City
Not technically a business, but man some audits and accountability would be nice, eh?
Celebrity Financier: It’s going to take a “We Are the World”-level supergroup to make this happen.