Towson Market Place to be auctioned

April 19, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

The Towson Market Place shopping center will go to public auction April 29, after a unit of Bramalea Ltd. of Toronto failed to pay back a $17 million mortgage from the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America.

The debt on the 541,000-square-foot shopping center, which is just east of the intersection of Joppa Road and Goucher Boulevard, has grown to $19 million because of delinquencies apparently linked to the recession, according to court documents filed by Equitable in connection with the foreclosure. The loan was made in 1986.

The main tenants at the center include Montgomery Ward, Best Products, Marshalls and Toys 'R' Us.

The U.S. Postal Service also operates a branch there.

But center manager Kathy McLaren would not say precisely how much of the mall is occupied, saying that questions had to be referred to Bramalea's U.S. headquarters office in Denver. Calls to that office were not returned.

The center and the 43.1 acres of land on which it sits will be auctioned by Atlantic Auctions Inc. of Baltimore.

Auctioneer Steve Wilcoxson said yesterday that Atlantic has not received the financial data that it normally offers prospective bidders on an income-producing property such as a shopping center.

Throughout the recovery from the recession, investors who have bought foreclosed properties have often been able to turn the once-trou bled assets into solid performers, assuming that they can pay a price low enough that the project is not strangled by its debt load.

Bramalea bought the center in 1981, when it was still called Eudowood Plaza, and in 1983 announced plans to spend $9 million to turn it into a specialty mall for discount retailers.

But the plan has always been hampered by the unusual design of the site, which makes the center nearly invisible from Joppa Road and makes vehicular access to the center difficult.

"It's going to be first-cabin," a Bramalea executive told The Sun in 1983. "We're going to make it [the $9 million] back in a three-year turnaround."

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