Dean & Deluca, the upscale gourmet food retailer that Annapolis officials have been wooing for more than a year, came a step closer to taking over the Market House in the city's downtown.

Last week a city commission chose Dean & Deluca over the Prince George's property management group that runs the Eastern Market in the District to assume control of the historic structure.

Dane Neller, president and chief executive of the New York-based company, said in an interview this week that "we couldn't be more delighted. We are very excited about the Market House, and we believe Dean & Deluca is a perfect fit."

The City Council and mayor will have the final say over whether Dean & Deluca comes to Annapolis. Mayor Ellen O. Moyer(D) said in an interview this week that she thinks the Market House under the company's management would "be the centerpiece" for the area around the City Dock.

"Dean & Deluca is going to put a lot of money in this facility, and certainly will provide the product mix that people say they want," she said. "This is a smart, upbeat company. They are certainly sensitive to the areas they go into."

The lease for the Market House's current tenants, many of whom said they were being forced out by the city, expires at the end of December. The city has maintained that it wants to turn management of the facility over to someone else. Moyer said she hoped Dean & Deluca would be operating the Market House by the spring.

Neller said the company is "prepared to move forward just as quickly as the city needs us to."

East Meets West

For the third time in a year, Anne Arundel County hosted a delegation of Chinese officials seeking to learn more about how the local government works. On Sunday, County Executive Janet S. Owens (D) and Chief Administrative Officer Robert Walker met with an eight-member delegation of Chinese officials and discussed a range of issues, including homeland security, economic development and the role of agriculture in the county.

Representatives from two other Chinese jurisdictions are scheduled to meet with county officials later this fall.

There is nothing unusual about the meetings, said county spokeswoman Jody Couser. She said the county often plays host to foreign dignitaries, who usually come out to Anne Arundel to see how local government works after spending time in Washington, where they meet with officials from the federal government.

Last spring, it was Owens's turn to go abroad. With a team of county officials including Bill Badger, the president and chief executive of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., she visited Finland and Denmark and then Moscow and St. Petersburg. The goal of that trip was to strengthen the county's international business alliances. It was Owens's second trip to Europe as county executive.

Photo Flashbacks of Storm

Just when you thought you were finally over Hurricane Isabel, which devastated parts of Anne Arundel County last year, the county is televising a photographic montage of the damage caused by the storm. Flooding ruined scores of homes and made downtown Annapolis look like Venice, as people moved through the deluged streets on boats and kayaks.

During the show, on government access Channel 98, Owens salutes the residents of Anne Arundel County "for their resilience."

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer calls Dean & Deluca a "smart, upbeat company."