The new owners of nine town houses went away happy yesterday as Maryland National Bank put the Belt's Wharf Landing town house and condominium project up for auction.
Although those units sold, the bank was forced to buy the project's 85 condominiums, seven other town houses and its marina when bidding came in lower than the bank would accept.
The bank forced the Fell Street project to go to auction after its developers defaulted on a loan that had a balance of more than $21 million when foreclosure papers were filed in January, according to court records.
The town house buyers agreed to pay a total of $1.547 million for their new homes, which went for $160,000 to $200,000 each. The bank took back for $4.4 million the 85-unit condominium building, along with seven town houses facing Fell Street, outbidding Dr. Charles C. Edwards, a Baltimore investor and physician. The bank also bought the project's 49-slip marina for $500,000.
"We knew there was interest" in the town houses, said David Fishman, a Baltimore attorney who coordinated the auction on behalf of Maryland National. "There isn't that much waterfront."
Interested bidders packed the lobby of the condominium building for the auction, where, in contrast to the typical commercial real estate auction, amateur bidders broke with tradition and showed excitement when they won. One mother who bought a unit for her son turned and hugged him.
But the prices the high bidders paid were well below what the tTC original developers, Fell Street Joint Venture, had once asked. Mary Bell Grempler, president of Grempler Realty, said eight of the homes once were to have sold for $435,000. But that price was always considered high, she said.
"I don't think that was ever a real number. I don't think we should encourage people to think they got that good a buy," she said.
Mr. Fishman said two of the town houses were sold to Dr. James A. Block, the incoming president of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, who bid over the phone after being injured in the plane crash at New York's La Guardia Airport Sunday.