Up to 45 vacant residences at the Colonnade, one of Baltimore's most upscale condominium projects, will go on the auction block early next month as part of a new strategy by developers Richard and Howard Rymland to accelerate sales.
Originally priced from $138,000 to $494,500, the condominiums could sell for far less than that. Suggested opening bids range from $50,000 for an executive studio to $150,000 for a three-bedroom penthouse residence with den and library.
The auction will be held June 8 at noon in the Stouffer's Inner Harbor Hotel. It will be handled by Sheldon Good & Co. -- a Chicago-based firm that recently auctioned off 62 units in Palm Beach, Fla. for developer Donald Trump -- with assistance from Alex Cooper Auctioneers of Towson.
Good has conducted a number of Baltimore-area auctions involving upscale properties, including Scarlett Place, the Deer Ridge Condominiums and Pavilion in the Park.
Company President Steven Good declined to predict what prices the Colonnade units might bring, but he said that in comparable sales, the prices have ranged anywhere from 15 to 45 percent below the retail price before the auction.
"It's the buyer's ballgame," he said. "There will be at least 15 sold,and beyond that there's a high probability that many more will be sold. You're talking about one of the finest buildings in the community and one of the finest communities in the city, with a wide range of inventory."
Located at University Parkway and Canterbury Road just north of the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus, the 11-story Colonnade opened last year and also includes a 125-room inn, the Polo Grill restaurant and a corporate office center.
The sales campaign for the condominiums was launched in 1988, and the first residents began moving in last summer.
To date, 24 of the 119 residences have been sold at prices ranging from $117,650 to $808,465, and another 40 are under contract, according to the auctioneers. That leaves the 45 which may be sold at auction and another 10 that the developers are holding in reserve.
Among those 10 is the Colonnade's most expensive residence, a 6,000-square-foot "Loggia in the Sky," which is being marketed for $1.3 million.
Mr. Good and Good Vice President Michael Fine explained that the auction is a voluntary sale on behalf of the developers and does not involve the inn or any of the residences already sold or under contract.
The advantage of an auction, they said, is that it allows the sellers to condense the marketing period of their unsold inventory and reduce their carrying costs, including interest, property taxes, insurance and maintenance.
The developers are then able to pass their reduced carrying costs along to the home-buying public in the form of major savings over retail prices, they explained.
The developers closed the sales center at the Colonnade on Monday and began notifying residents and contract purchasers about the auction yesterday. A briefing for residents was scheduled for today.
Under the terms of the auction, 15 of the residences will be sold regardless of price and up to 30 more will be sold "with reserve," which means the sellers will have the right to accept or reject the offers.
The auctioneers plan to open an information center inside the Colonnade on May 16. The center will be open Mondays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. up until the auction.