Reports of Fishmarket reopening prematureIf the...

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

September 16, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney

Reports of Fishmarket reopening premature

If the Fishmarket's various bars featuring different kinds of music were still functioning, the golden oldies room would be playing "It Ain't Necessarily So" while the hip-hop room blasted "Don't Believe the Hype."

We're talking, of course, about plans to reopen the entertainment complex on Market Place downtown. Press reports citing anonymous sources had said Fishmarket owner The McCourt Co. had a tentative financing commitment from Maryland National Bank. The report said McCourt planned to reopen the nightspot by Thanksgiving.

Wrong, McCourt spokesman Merrill Diamond said. McCourt is working with Maryland National to line up financing, he said, but there is no commitment yet -- tentative or otherwise.

"Nothing is firmed up on it," he said. "Things aren't done at this point, but they look like they're going in the right direction."

Marilyn Corbett, a spokeswoman for Maryland's Department of Economic and Employment Development, discounted the report that said DEED had agreed to guarantee part of the Fishmarket's financing package. She called it premature.

Mr. Diamond reiterated the McCourt Co.'s oft-stated belief that poor management, rather than too-small weeknight crowds, was the nail that sealed the coffin of the Fish Market's first go-round as a night spot in 1989.

Nearby on Market Place, the equipment of Baltimore's Original Sports Bar is slated to be auctioned Saturday. The 18,000-square-foot bar, in the Brokerage complex above Bennigan's, closed Aug. 31 after its Texas-based operator did not renew its lease.

Brokerage officials didn't return calls seeking comments on what they might do with the space. Auctioneer R. Andrew Stafford said the auction will not include all of the bar's equipment because some of it was leased and has been returned to its vendors.

Liberty Jewish center enters condo market

Having been forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings by the federal government, Liberty Jewish Center is ready to take on an even scarier foe: the condominium market.

The Greengate-based synagogue sought bankruptcy court protection from creditors -- specifically the Resolution Trust Corp. -- after the 1990 collapse of a deal to sell its old building on Church Lane in Randallstown and the demise of an earlier condo proposal left the synagogue behind on the mortgage for its new home on Old Pimlico Road. The RTC inherited Yorkridge-Calvert Savings and Loan's loan to the Jewish Center when the government took over the thrift.

Its new plan, which is up for Baltimore County Review Group approval next week, is part of the reorganization approved by the bankruptcy court in 1990, said Joel Sher, a lawyer for the court-appointed trustee in charge of liquidating the Jewish Center's real estate assets.

It calls for building 74 condos in six buildings around the 11-acre property on Old Pimlico Road. But Mr. Sher said neighbors don't need to look for construction crews soon.

"As trustee, it's not our intention to do the physical development," Mr. Sher said. "It's our intention to market the property. It was our belief that by getting the approval, we could increase the value of the property."

He said the next step after getting county approval will be to market the land to developers. Money from selling the land will be used to offset the Jewish Center's debt to the RTC, he said. That debt is about $1 million.

He added that the Randallstown building eventually sold for $450,000, after the first buyer couldn't get financing.

CARE mum on site for new headquarters

It's down to the wire for the three cities waiting to hear whether they will be the headquarters of the international agency CARE. The decision, actually, is all but made. But CARE isn't telling.

"We should have a decision known by one o'clock Friday afternoon," said Jack McBride, vice president of management services at CARE, which is considering Baltimore and Atlanta as its new home. Its current home, New York, also is in the running.

He said CARE's staff made a recommendation to a committee of ...$...$TC the relief agency's board last Friday, and added that the committee accepted the staff recommendation. But officials in Baltimore and Atlanta, not to mention the news media and public, haven't yet been told what it is.

CARE has said it wants to move to cut operating costs and boost its endowment by selling its New York building. CARE has estimated its relocation costs at $6 million and made clear that it expects substantial help coming up with that $6 million from whichever city it chooses.

CARE executive vice president William Novelli indicated last month that CARE expected Maryland's proposal to include state help in buying the Shillman Building at 500 N. Calvert St., formerly the operations center for Baltimore Federal Financial savings and loan. Mr. McBride would not comment on the proposal's content.

Belt's Landing team back in the hunt

With their Belt's Landing condo project in Fells Point almost sold out, Joel Gamel said he and partner Elliott Sharaby likely will do their next deal in Washington. But they are scoping Baltimore for bargains.

Mr. Gamel said he has made an offer on a Pikesville condominium complex. He gave no details. Stay tuned.

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