Apartment complex gets key OK

January 26, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan yesterday tentatively approved a $7 million bid by a group headed by Landex Corp. of Warwick, R.I., which plans to buy and redevelop an apartment complex in Baltimore's Reservoir Hill neighborhood.

Despite community requests that a decision be postponed, Judge Kaplan agreed to sign a contract that gives the prospective buyer 75 days to inspect the Renaissance Plaza apartments and decide whether to buy the buildings and spend $21.6 million renovating them.

The group has to return to the judge for final approval once the financing is in place.

Representatives of the neighborhood and current tenants of the 311-unit apartment complex asked Judge Kaplan to delay his decision for 20 days so they could meet with the proposed developer. They said they had been unable to set up a meeting with the Landex group despite repeated requests.

Landex is working with Community Preservation and Development Corp. (CPDC) of Bethesda and the Richman Group of Greenwich, Conn. The group plans to buy the three buildings from the state for $7 million and renovate them to provide about 300 apartments for low- and moderate-income residents.

The state took control of the historic buildings -- the Emersonian at 2502 Eutaw Place, the Esplanade at 2525 Eutaw Place and Temple Gardens at 2601 Madison Ave. -- after a previous owner defaulted on a $7 million state loan in 1991. A state-appointed receiver got 11 bids last summer and narrowed the list to three finalists before recommending the group headed by Landex.

Judge Kaplan yesterday turned down a last-minute revision of a bid by one of the finalists, the Roizman/Related Group, which also proposed to renovate the buildings for continued use as apartments. The Philadelphia-based development team increased its earlier bid of $7 million to $8.5 million.

Although $1.5 million higher than the Landex group's bid, the Roizman/Related offer called for a $3 million payment at the time of sale and another $5.5 million plus interest when construction is completed. Landex promised full payment at the time of sale.

Judge Kaplan said he considered the Landex group's plan more attractive, in part because of the immediate payment.

Attorneys for Roizman have claimed in court documents that the bidding process is unfair because Landex and CPDC entered the competition as separate bidders but were allowed to join forces and present a combined offer after the deadline.

After listening to representatives of the neighborhood during a hearing, Judge Kaplan said he saw no need to delay signing the contract because residents should be able to meet with the developer during the 75-day study period.

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