6 Howard commercial buildings among 24 to be auctioned off Tuesday

June 02, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Six commercial buildings in Howard County will go on the block Tuesday as part of a novel attempt at auctioning off 24 properties throughout the Baltimore area.

The Howard properties, in Jessup, Elkridge and Columbia, include several office buildings, industrial-type warehouses and two buildings designed for clients engaged in research and development work.

The commercial properties, along with the other 18 properties, will be auctioned at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel beginning at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The Manekin Corp. and Baltimore-based Michael Fox Auctioneers are the selling agents.

"This looked like a good time to organize an auction like this because investor money appears to be returning to the commercial real estate market," said Joseph A. Callanan, director of investment service for Manekin.

"Even in the smaller buildings, interest seems up; demand for products and services is up, and businesses are looking for room to expand."

The companies advertised the event nationally and regionally, and distributed 10,000 color brochures describing the properties, said Andrew J. A. Chriss, a broker for Manekin.

The sale will mark the first time Fox and Manekin have packaged numerous Baltimore-area commercial properties together for a multiproperty auction, Mr. Chriss said.

That kind of marketing has been used successfully by Fox in Atlanta, New Orleans and several other cities, he said, with 40 percent to 60 percent of the offered properties being sold.

"This gives us a chance we might not otherwise get to be able to afford to give these properties a lot of exposure for sale," Mr. Chriss said.

The best known of the Howard County properties is 1 Commerce Center, next to the pedestrian bridge that crosses Little Patuxent Parkway near The Mall in Columbia. The building, which has 141,100 square feet of rentable space, is one of four high-rise office buildings in Columbia.

The 12-story office tower, built in 1982, is 68 percent leased, according to the auction brochure. It was repossessed from Howard County developer Patrick McCuan by Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co.

,.1 Mr. Callanan said Mercantile has made numerous improvements to the building and has boosted occupancy. Mercantile has set an undisclosed minimum bid -- or 'reserve' -- on the property.

The auction includes two other other Columbia properties: the five-story Clark Building on Sterrett Place, within walking distance of the mall, and a research and development building in the Oakland Ridge Industrial Center and Office Park off Route 108.

Built in 1974, the 107,052-square-foot Clark Building was also foreclosed on by Mercantile, which made improvements and hasboosted occupancy considerably during the past two years -- to 89 percent from 20 percent -- said Mr. Callanan. Mercantile has set a reserve price on the property.

The other Columbia property is a 38,840-square-foot building on Red Branch Road in the Oakland Ridge Industrial and Office Park.

It is to be offered as an "absolute" sale, meaning it will be sold to the highest bidder. A minimum bid of $1.515 million has been set for the property, according to the auction brochure.

Other properties in the auction are:

*Two Elkridge properties on Amberton Drive in the Route 100 Office Park, a 35,030-square-foot warehouse and a 50,000-square-foot research and development building.

Built in 1974, the warehouse is 80 percent leased. It is also offered as an absolute sale with a minimum bid of $875,000.

The other Elkridge building is targeted for research and development clients and is 20 years old. It has 50,000 square feet of space and is about 60 percent leased.

The property is offered as an absolute sale and is subject to a $1.6 million minimum bid.

* A 50,000-square-foot vacant warehouse near the Maryland Wholesale Food Market. Built in 1989, it was taken back by the lending institution, Mr. Callanan said.

A minimum bid of $600,000 has been set. It will be sold to the highest bidder.

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