Auction at Belvedere is put on holdDon't hold your breath...


April 14, 1993|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

Auction at Belvedere is put on hold

Don't hold your breath waiting for the auction of restaurant spaces at the old Belvedere Hotel tomorrow. It won't happen, the head of the restaurants says.

"There's not going to be a foreclosure, period," Dion Dorizas, head of Metropolitan Realty Inc., said yesterday. His company runs the Club Renaissance, the Owl Bar and the 13th-floor Skyline Cafe in the landmark hotel, which was converted to condominiums beginning in 1991.

Mr. Dorizas was set to meet with creditors yesterday evening, with a settlement proposal ready in one hand and a bankruptcy reorganization filing in the other. Either a settlement or a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would sidetrack the auction. But he says a settlement is more likely.

The auction was scheduled at the behest of FMLC Inc., a California company that is owed about $580,000, which includes about $55,000 that is in arrears. But Mr. Dorizas claims that FMLC is a de facto affiliate of Belvedere Realty Corp., which did the condo conversion and which is led by Joel Gamel and Elliott Sharaby. He says Belvedere Realty owes him about as much as he owes the mortgage company.

Mr. Dorizas insists that isn't a coincidence. He says he has withheld payments because of problems with air conditioning systems and damage that the building's repair crews did to the 13th floor. He also claims he is owed about $25,000 in commissions for referring to the developers people who bought condos.

David Fishman, an attorney for FMLC, said FMLC is not owned by Mr. Sharaby and Mr. Gamel. They have been authorized to negotiate for the company because they are in Baltimore, he added.

Mr. Fishman said negotiations on repairs are continuing, but declined to give details.

The anger of Mr. Dorizas, who bought the commercial spaces from Belvedere Realty as part of the condo conversion, is personal as well as financial. He says FMLC demanded in debt renegotiation talks that his wife guarantee the note as a co-signer and scheduled the auction for the first anniversary of the bars' reopening, when Metropolitan plans an anniversary bash.

"They tried to embarrass me in front of my wife's family, and that's the worst thing they could have done," he said. "We're having a big party here [tomorrow]. I guarantee we'll be open."

Johnny's Auto site heads to auction block

A Baltimore era is scheduled to come to an ungainly close May 18, when A.J. Billig & Co. auctions off the site of Johnny's Auto Sales, a Northeast Baltimore used-car lot that was once the state's largest.

Johnny's owner, "Handsome Johnny" Wilbanks, was a well-known character who a 1983 Sun magazine profile said had sold 100,000 cars. He earned a sterling reputation and sponsored youth baseball teams, after losing both legs in an accident.

But in 1993, the Bank of Baltimore says Mr. Wilbanks defaulted on two 1988 notes, one a promissory note and the other an inventory loan to buy cars. On March 5, according to court papers, he owed the bank almost $1.2 million.

Billig will auction the Johnny's Auto Sales lot at 4801 Harford Road and another Wilbanks property at 4700-4714 Belair Road.

Super Thrift planned for Hampstead site

MacKenzie/O'Conor Piper & Flynn Commercial Real Estate Services said yesterday that it had brokered the sale of a 12-acre commercial property on Route 30 in Hampstead, where Scrivner of Pennsylvania, operators of the Super Thrift grocery chain, will build a 49,000-square-foot supermarket. It will open in November.

The land is part of the Oakmont Green development, which opened last year and includes 90 home lots and a golf course.

Oakmont Green L.P. sold the land for $600,000, MacKenzie said.

IBM space may be snapped up quickly

The reorganization and downsizing of International Business Machines Corp. is affecting the Baltimore real estate scene, but the problem may be fixed before anyone really notices it.

The computer maker has moved out of one floor of the local headquarters building it shares with T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. at 100 E. Pratt St., and may be moving out of a second.

That's the bad news. The good news: The building's owners announced a lease this week for one of the vacated floors, and are working on a deal for the other.

American Credit Indemnity Co., a division of Dun & Bradstreet Corp., will move from the Commercial Credit Building and will lease 40,000 square feet on the fifth floor.

"We've known IBM was going to consolidate out of one floor and possibly two floors for at least six months," said L. Bruce Matthai, the W.C. Pinkard & Co. broker in charge of leasing the building.

IBM might move out of the sixth floor as well, as part of its cost-cutting campaign. But Mr. Matthai said talks are continuing with a tenant interested in leasing the entire 40,000-square-foot floor.

"My feeling is that the floor will never come on the market," he said.

ACI general counsel Gary Shapiro said ACI, one of the biggest private-sector tenants in the local office market this year, stayed downtown because of the transportation needs of its workers, and the city's health.

"If everyone moves to the suburbs, there won't be anyone left," Mr. Shapiro said.

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