Edward R. Butler has 10 days to come up with more than $122,000 or he could finally lose his West Baltimore catering facility.
Bankruptcy Judge E. Stephen Derby yesterday ordered John Hanson Savings Bank to hold off its auction of the Palladium scheduled for today. The reprieve is the latest in Butler's struggle to keep John Hanson and other creditors from selling the facility to satisfy debts. This auction was scheduled after Butler fell five months behind in mortgage payments on a $1.4 million loan used to build the hall, which opened in 1986.
To keep creditors from taking the 30,000-square-foot facility, Butler filed for personal bankruptcy last July. He has been able to avoid an auction of the facility three times.
However, if Butler has not made payment after the 10-day waiting period, John Hanson will be permitted to auction the facility without facing any more legal challenges.
"John Hanson will not be required to call off the auction if it doesn't have money in hand," Derby said flatly during a hearing yesterday.
Butler's attorney, Robert B. Scarlett, said he is confident that the Palladium won't be auctioned and that there has been a interest in helping it continue to stay open. Scarlett said there are at least two investment groups interested in purchasing the facility, at 2900 Liberty Heights Ave.
One group is headed by Bishop Theodore Ramoses Amenhotep, of the Universal Afrikan Church. Amenhotep said he has been interested in the catering hall but would not elaborate on his plans for the facility.
Scarlett told the judge that Butler was in the middle of negotiations with both groups and might soon have a signed agreement.
But Derby was skeptical, saying he took "with a grain of salt" Scarlett's assurances of a sale agreement.
In the past, Butler has been able to save his business from the auction block by coming up with past-due mortgage payments at the last minute.
Besides making the past-due payments, Butler must either buy insurance for the Palladium or pay John Hanson an additional $30,000 for insurance the thrift took out. Butler is also late in paying a $90,000 tax bill, documents indicate.