At long last, Trammell owns Southern Hotel

May 23, 1991|By Edward Gunts

Two and a half years after it first tried to buy the Southern Hotel at auction as part of the site where it wants to build Baltimore's tallest office building, a group headed by the Trammell Crow Co. has completed the transaction.

A joint venture of Trammell Crow and Capital Guidance of Geneva, Switzerland, took title on May 16 to the vacant 13-story hotel at 14 Light St., the largest of seven properties that Trammell Crow has tried to gain control of so it can build a 45-story office tower called One Light Street.

The group, called One Light Street Joint Venture, on the same day assumed ownership of the former roadbed of Telephone Alley between Redwood and Baltimore streets.

The acquisitions give Trammell Crow's group outright ownership of six of the seven properties within the proposed construction site for the $180 million tower, the block bounded by Light, Redwood, Baltimore and Grant streets.

The moves show that Trammell Crow remains committed to building the project.

"We own it free and clear," Dirk Mosis, partner in charge of Trammell Crow's Baltimore office, said of the vacant hotel. "Most of the hard work [of] land assembly is behind us now. All we need is a lead tenant."

Trammell Crow first gained control of the hotel in November 1988, when it bid $6.5 million for it at auction. The auction was a sale on behalf of Signet Bank/Maryland, which had begun foreclosure proceedings against another group that previously controlled the hotel.

Trammell Crow's group completed the transaction this month by paying $2.6 million in cash to Signet. Combined with a $400,000 down payment that Trammell Crow's group paid at auction in 1988, that brought the purchase price for the hotel to $3 million.

Mr. Mosis said he and his partners reached agreement to pay the $3 million price on the morning of April 17, 1991, the same day Signet called off an auction of the property at the last minute.

He added that Trammell Crow's group actually paid between $6.5 million and $7 million to acquire the vacant hotel, including fees to the bank to extend the deadline for closing, 30 months of interest payments on the previous developer's loan, $750,000 in back taxes, and other payments.

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