The bankrupt Brokerage is heading for the holiday-season auction block -- and some tenants of the food and entertainment complex say that can only mean good tidings.
W.C. Pinkard & Co., operating manager of the downtown complex, said yesterday that the Brokerage will be auctioned Dec. 18. The sale was scheduled after bankruptcy reorganization efforts failed and San Francisco-based Bank of America foreclosed in November.
"Everyone's paying so much rent but not making any money hardly because there is no traffic,"said Hammed Hossainkhail, owner of the Baltimore Grog & Tankard."I think this is good news for all of us."
Mr. Hossainkhail, 26, said a new owner for the $40 million shopping, restaurant and entertainment complex -- which has seen its occupancy rate drop dramatically since its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in March -- probably would mean new tenants, better management and increased traffic.
Since the bankruptcy filing, the Grog & Tankard, Cara's Cafe and Dominique's Restaurant have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Several other businesses there have complained that business has soured since the complex began having financial difficulty.
The 165,000-square-foot Brokerage is one of the largest and most expensive downtown redevelopment projects to be involved in bankruptcy proceedings in Baltimore.
The Brokerage's former owners, Sovereign Realty 1983-XVIII Ltd. partnership, owes Bank of America roughly $53 million, according to bankruptcy papers.
The successful bidder will have to put down a $1 million deposit, according to an advertisement in the Daily Record for the auction, which is being handled by Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc.
Greg Pinkard, vice president of property management for W.C. Pinkard, said the retail space at the Brokerage is 30 percent to 40 percent leased, with 14 merchants. That's down from the 55 percent lease rate when the complex filed for bankruptcy protection.
Mr. Pinkard said the office space is 40 percent to 50 percent leased, down from 90 percent in March.
Tenants at the Brokerage say that in addition to the auction they are excited about the prospect of increased business from the scheduled reopening of the nearby Fishmarket entertainment complex early next year.
"The Fishmarket should really get a flow of people coming in here too," said Phyllis Deletha, owner of Deletha's hat and clothing store in the Brokerage.