Canton project's land up for auction

November 25, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

A major Canton condominium development site will go to auction Dec. 17 when A. J. Billig & Co. tries to sell land once slated to become Lighthouse Point, a luxury development that fell victim to the recession.

The land for the stalled development is being sold on behalf of Maryland National Bank, said Jack F. Billig, head of the auction firm.

The developers, Baltimore International Yachting Centre L.P., owed Maryland National $8.65 million on June 1, representing money borrowed against the 7.9-acre tract on Boston Street.

The developers' plan called for construction of about 450 residential units, 75,000 square feet of commercial space and 250,000 square feet of retail space, said Charles Weinstein, a vice president of South Charles Realty Corp., a unit of MNC FinancialInc. that handles loan workouts and property disposition for its affiliate, Maryland National.

"They were going to build $1.5 million pier houses," Mr. Billig said.

But the Canton market never proved that it could handle a price anywhere near that high, said Jenifer Stick, an appraiser for the firm of Lipman, Frizzell & Mitchell in Lutherville.

Ms. Stick, who has appraised much of the downtown condominium market, said it would be difficult for any buyer of the land to build even a more-modest condominium development on the site.

"All the momentum is gone," she said. And the city and federal incentives that made much of downtown's renewal possible are no longer available because of public policy changes, she said.

Mr. Weinstein said the information package being prepared for bidders would include suggested alter natives to the original plan.

The package would also propose short-term interim uses like a winter storage facility for boats, a skating rink, flea markets and other uses that could easily be terminated or moved when the market strengthens enough to make developing the land less risky.

Possible long-term plans include a smaller residential development that relies on town houses instead of condominiums.

"It's put out there as an alternative to show what else can be done there," Mr. Weinstein said. "The plan would reflect about 125 town houses, with a lot of open space in between, plenty of parking, a lot like the project across the street that's been successful.

"If you can buy the land inexpensively enough, a developer can still make money," he said. "The trick is to keep the prices below $200,000. That will sell in Baltimore."

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