While others heard the roar of a commercial real estate crash, auctioneer Bill Fox heard virtual silence yesterday as he asked for a $10 million bid on Baltimore Travel Plaza. It amounted to the same thing.
Maryland National Bank bought the East Baltimore combination of 10-story hotel, dinner theater, restaurant, nightclub, fast-food emporium, truck stop and bus station for $2.85 million, far less than the $11.9 million a development team led by now-bankrupt Lawrence Rachuba owed the bank. The travel plaza's value was once estimated to be as high as $30 million.
"Who will give me $10 million?" Mr. Fox asked as he tried to open the bidding. "Awful quiet," he said.
The first bid was only $2 million for the 5-year-old complex, whose former owners called off a 1989 auction when the top bid reached only $12 million, saying they didn't want to give the place away.