Foundering under the weight of more than $7 million in debts, the owner of marinas in Pasadena and Eastport has declared bankruptcy.
Dennis C. Blaeuer, who owns White Rocks Yacht Club on Rock Creek and Spa Creek Yacht Club on Burnside Street in Annapolis, has filed for protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore.
In separate recent motions, Blaeuer seeks to reorganize his businesses and arrange a plan to repay debts under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Blaeuer, whose financial woes also have led to a bank foreclosure on a Talbot County boatyard and forced him to sell Annapolis property where he'd proposed a controversial yacht club, lists debts of $6.9 million on the Pasadena marina and $1.4 million on the Spa Creek business.
A meeting with Spa Creek creditors is set for Oct. 24 in bankruptcy court, and one will be scheduled for White Rocks creditors most likely by early November, said Blaeuer's attorney, Alan H. Grant, of Bethesda-based Grant and Tobias.
The $7.5 million Pasadena marina apparently had fallen on hard times, making timely repayment of $5.1 million on a loan from First Annapolis Savings Bank impossible. But specifics on how the businesses have fared were unavailable and Blaeuer failed to return phone calls.
From the time Blaeuer bought the marina seven years ago, the developer mismanaged it, said the former property owner who had also been a consultant to Blaeuer.
Mitch Nathanson, president of Coastal Properties Management Inc. of Annapolis, sold the 300-slip marina -- with a restaurant, repair shop and eight houses -- to Blaeuer and, as a consultant, helped Blaeuer add another hundred boat slips.
"I gave him a book that described the whole facility and what he needed to do to run it," Nathanson said. "If he had followed the numbers, he would have made money right away. But he was never there and I was having to run the property myself. Because of his desire to buy properties and create an empire, he lost sight of what each of the properties was supposed to do."
Coastal Properties, which owns and manages several local marinas, has been named as receiver for Blaeuer's Dickerson Boat Builders and an adjacent property, to manage the boat yard for the bank, Nathanson said.
Coastal Properties was to be named receiver for White Rocks as well, but Blaeuer filed for protection before the bank foreclosed, Nathanson said.
Both White Rocks and the $1.4 million Spa Creek, the 50-slip marina on Burnside Street that Blaeuer bought in April 1989, will stay open, said Mark Kingsley, manager of the limited partnerships that run the businesses.
"There's no change in the operation," he said. "Whether they are sold or kept, we'll continue to keep the marinas running."
Blaeuer filed the White Rocks case Sept. 13 on behalf of White Rocks Limited Partnership. Court records show he owes 40 creditors for loans, legal fees, real estate taxes, materials and equipment.
He filed Sept. 5 for protection from 13 Spa Creek creditors, on behalf of Burnside Limited Partnership.
The bankruptcy filings mark the latest in a series of financial hardships Blaeuer and his ventures have suffered.
Two years ago, the $11 million White Rocks Yachting Center, proposed on the site of a small boatyard on two acres near the Spa Creek Bridge, became the focal point of a bitter dispute.
Supporters had argued that the maritime commercial center would retain Spa Creek's maritime flavor. But opponents viewed the center as a symbol of the mushrooming condominium and office development along the Annapolis waterfront.
Four months ago, before Blaeuer could begin building the 83,000-square-foot center, he was forced to sell the property to the Annapolis Yacht Club, for $3.5 million, or face foreclosure.
Blaeuer's inability to stay afloat financially could well dim the prospects for others in the maritime industry, one maritime advocate suggested.
When one business goes under, lenders grow more reluctant to finance new shops or expansions, said Mick Blackistone, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland.
"The banks tend to look very hard at the rest of the industry," Blackistone said. "And psychologically, it's not a good thing for the industry."
"The (Blaeuer) properties were good properties," Nathanson said when asked what he believed went wrong. "I think it was really a lack of direction and management and real understanding of the maritime industry."