Lord Baltimore Hotel sold for $8.5 millionAfter three...


December 02, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney

Lord Baltimore Hotel sold for $8.5 million

After three strikes you're out in baseball, but it looks like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has finally managed on the fourth try to auction off the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel.

After putting the 66-year-old landmark hostelry into a nationwide satellite auction yesterday to increase its exposure, the FDIC found a buyer from Columbia: Universal Equities Group Ltd., which agreed to pay $8.5 million.

"It will continue as a Radisson franchise," said Henry Lieberman, one of three partners in Universal.

He said his Howard County group has also talked with the hotel's current management firm, but that no decision had been made on whether to replace the hotel's management.

Mr. Lieberman said one early change is likely to be adding a "signature, fun restaurant" that "people will want to go to every day, not just on special occasions."

The $8.5 million price was a sharp change from three prior auction attempts that failed to bring a bid over $6.9 million. "It exceeded our expectations," said David Barr, a spokesman for the FDIC, which had estimated that the Lord Baltimore would fetch between $4.8 million and $7.6 million.

Mr. Lieberman, who bid in two earlier auctions, said the higher price was justified, and said more than half a dozen bidders competed for the hotel.

"That's about $19,000 a room for a property that's been renovated from top to bottom" at a cost that he said topped $40 million. "You can't buy a downtown hotel in a stable market for anywhere near that."

Mr. Lieberman said Universal was formed earlier this year -- his partners are Harvey Gunawan and a family from Singapore whom he declined to identify -- to buy Class A office buildings in major U.S. markets. But, he said, his group decided to make an exception because it had experience in the hotel business and knew the Lord Baltimore.

The hotel was renovated in the early to mid-1980s by a partnership headed by Rockville developer Saul Perlmutter. That partnership defaulted on a mortgage to a New York thrift that failed, and the hotel ended up in the hands of the FDIC.

Speaking of hotels, a much smaller, lesser-known hotel has also turned over recently. A Pennsylvania investment group has taken the Hampton Inn in Hunt Valley off the hands of South Charles Realty Corp. for $2.35 million.

The buyer was Federated National Inc. of State College, Pa., said Kurt Mockenhaupt, a consultant with the Hotel Advisory Group at Coakley & Williams Inc., a Greenbelt firm that brokered the deal. Mr. Mockenhaupt said Federated National owns other hotels, which he wouldn't name, but said none of them are in the Baltimore area.

Mr. Mockenhaupt said the sale of the five-story, 126-room York Road hotel closed in mid-November. The deal was the second hotel sale that Coakley & Williams has worked on with South Charles, the asset management and disposition arm of MNC Financial Inc. The other hotel is an Econo-Lodge in Northern Virginia.

South Charles had been marketing the 6-year-old Hampton Inn for eight months, since Maryland National Bank took over the property from the former owners, Mr. Mockenhaupt said. MNC )) officials couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

The new owners do not plan major changes, Mr. Mockenhaupt said. "It will remain a Hampton Inn," he said.

Cathedral St. auction postponed to Dec. 21

Atlantic Auctions Inc. has postponed the auction of a 24,000-square-foot office building at 1001-1007 Cathedral St. to Dec. 21 from Dec. 11, auctioneer R. Andrew Stafford said.

The building was renovated in the mid-1980s, but is almost entirely empty. About 3,000 square feet are leased to an architecture firm. "It has lots of good space available for the new user," Mr. Stafford said.

Closed Howard store up for auction

Alex Cooper Auctioneers has its own auction on the west side of downtown coming up Dec. 10, when it will try to sell the building at 422-424 N. Howard St., formerly a furniture store. Vice President Paul Cooper said the auction firm has come up with a novel marketing idea for the retail-zoned property -- along with other channels, the property is being advertised in a Korean-oriented publication.

"I'm just hoping to hit a user," meaning someone who would buy the building to run a store himself or herself, Mr. Cooper said. "Investors haven't been coming out."

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