Contractor buys former home of Blake center Building to be converted into retail, office space

June 20, 1996|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Baltimore has sold the fire-ravaged former home of the Eubie Blake Cultural Center to a local contractor who plans to renovate the building at 409 N. Charles St. for retail and office space.

The sale of the building to C & S Contractors Inc. for $100,000 ZTC was approved yesterday by a 3-0 vote of the Board of Estimates, with Council President Lawrence A. Bell III and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt abstaining.

C & S will put $10,000 down and will be given a 20-year, interest-free mortgage for the remaining $90,000, officials said. Once renovations are complete, the company, headed by Solomon Akwara, will move its headquarters from Northeast Baltimore to the building, said Alvin C. Hathaway Sr., who will manage the project.

Other tenants will be a clothing retailer, which will occupy the first floor, a law firm and an accounting firm, which will be on the two upper floors, said Hathaway, who declined to identify them because leases were being negotiated.

Michelle Whelley, chief operating officer of the Baltimore Development Corp., told the board that C & S was the first potential buyer of the property since a fire heavily damaged it about three years ago, and the first to offer a "viable proposal" to do renovations that did not involve city funds.

Newly named city real estate officer Anthony J. Ambridge did not dispute that notion, but he complained that his department had not been given a chance to appraise the property before the sale and he objected to the interest-free mortgage.

Pratt, who named Ambridge to his post last week, tried unsuccessfully to get the vote deferred to allow the real estate department to review the deal. She then was joined by Bell in abstaining from the vote.

But Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who controls three of the board's five votes, said, "This matter has been fully investigated."

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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