Canton tract sold at auction Property brings $1.15 million

December 18, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

Once this site represented morning in America, the anything-is-possible-in-real-estate ethic that led developers to borrow more than $8 million to turn this 8-acre stretch of Boston Street into glamorous condos.

Yesterday, however, it was afternoon with the auctioneers at the failed Lighthouse Point site in Canton, as MNC Financial Inc. bought the building for $1.15 million.

The company's South Charles Realty Corp. subsidiary will now try to sell the property and recoup as much as possible of the $8.65 million the old developers owed Maryland National Bank as of June 1, plus the six months of accrued interest since then. Maryland National is another unit of MNC.

The original development team planned a project including 450 residential units, 75,000 square feet of commercial space and 250,000 square feet of retail space, South Charles Vice President Charles Weinstein has said.

Real estate executives have said the problem, other than the recession, was that the developers planned to build more expensive houses than the downtown condominium market has proved it will support. They said the eventual developer will probably build a smaller development of town homes priced under $200,000.

"This is the largest undeveloped site of its kind in this area," said auctioneer Jack Billig of A. J. Billig & Co., as he exhorted the dozens of people at the 1 p.m. auction to bid, telling them they might never see another chance to buy as big a piece of the Canton waterfront.

But the bidding for the parcel, which includes a long pier, began at $900,000 and petered out almost immediately.

Charles Edwards, a Baltimore investor and physician who has bought several prominent bankrupt developments this year, refused to go higher than $1.11 million despite a hurried discussion with a South Charles executive and cajoling from Mr. Billig.

"Charles, you're making a mistake," Mr. Billig said.

"You're all going to be sorry tomorrow," Mr. Billig told the crowd of nonbidders as the auction neared an end.

"You'll say, 'That guy Billig was up there on the stand longer than I've ever seen him trying to sell a piece of property,' " he said.

Indeed, even some of the nonbidders seemed to believe him. One member of the audience told a companion "you could

[re-sell it] next week and make a million dollars."

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