Mall's Retailers Await Auction's Fallout

November 03, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Carrolltowne Mall merchants hope last week's sale of the mall at a foreclosure auction doesn't hurt holiday sales.

"It's affecting theattitudes and feelings of the merchants and people who shop here," said Joanne Ciepiela, owner of BJ's Bloomers.

"We're here, and we're still the same friendly people we've always been," said Ciepiela, who has operated her gift and flower shop at the mall for six years.

Maryland National Bank paid $2.1 million Wednesday for the mall at Liberty and Ridge roads.

Court documents say it was worth about $12.5 million.

The bank started foreclosureproceedings in August, after mall owners fell behind in loan payments.

The bank, through its subsidiary, South Charles Realty, took over ownership of the mall last spring. South Charles Realty disposes of the bank's troubled real estate loans and holdings, a spokesman said.

The former owners, Carrolltowne Center Associates Limited Partnership, owed the bank $36.5 million as of Aug. 13, according to documents in county Circuit Court.

The 298,383-square-foot mall, anchored by Peebles Department Store, K mart and SuperFresh, is one of the largest retail centers to be auctioned in Maryland during this recession.

Two bidders vied for the mall at an afternoon auction on the front steps of the Carroll County Courthouse. Auctioneer Joseph A. Cooper, president of Alex Cooper Auctioneers Inc. in Towson, conducted the sale.

Dennis M. Miller of Maryland National started the bidding at $100,000. The bids escalated to $1 million and then jumped to $2million.

About 25 people gathered on the courthouse lawn and sidewalk to watch the 20-minute sale. Cooper would not say how many people registered to bid. Registrants were required to make a $500,000 deposit before bidding.

The other bidder would not give his name or say on whose behalf he was bidding.

Miller would not comment about the bank's plans for the mall.

A spokeswoman for Rappaport Management Co. of Vienna, Va., which manages the mall, also would not comment.

Court records say the mall's owners borrowed $32.6 million in December 1987. Interest was accruing at the rate of $8,376 a day, the records show.

Carrolltowne Mall, built in 1976 and renovated in 1978 and 1988, is about 88 percent occupied, according to numbers distributed to bidders Wednesday.

Year-to-date net revenue for the mallas of Sept. 30 was $385,268, the numbers showed.

The mall's former owners could not be reached for comment.

Edith Parker, assistantmanager of K mart, said business has continued as usual through the foreclosure proceedings, and that the retailer plans to expand about 90 feet into the parking lot in the middle of next year.

The company plans to update the store's look and renovate its auto service bays, she said.

Ciepiela said her store's sales dropped when word of the auction spread. People avoided shopping at the mall, thinking they could come back soon for a going-out-of-business sale, she said.

"There's nobody in this mall going out of business," she said. "We're gearing up for Christmas."

The auction "has no affect on the merchants and their leases. It's business as usual," she said.

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