At auction, 24 run-down Arundel houses sold

Landlord neglected units on troubled Arwell Court

February 13, 2003|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

An auctioneer sold most of the run-down, boarded-up townhouses belonging to Arwell Court's largest landlord yesterday, marking a major step toward cleaning up one of Anne Arundel County's most dangerous streets.

Businessman Mark Woods of Chantilly, Va., bought 24 of Mohammad Zuberi's 30 townhouses on the Pioneer City street known for drugs, blight and gunshots. He paid about $7,000 for each, a fraction of what they were listed for when Zuberi bought them over the past three decades.

The sale fell short of the $216,000 needed to pay off one of Zuberi's main creditors, Warfield Condominium Association No. 3, which governs Arwell Court. Warfield originally scheduled the auction five years ago, but Zuberi filed for bankruptcy protection a day before the sale, which stopped the auction.

"I think we have found a really good person who will come in and clean the community up," said Warfield attorney Kathleen M. Elmore.

Built as affordable housing, Arwell Court initially attracted investors and new residents. But drugs dealers soon infiltrated the community, and many owners who could afford to sold quickly. Zuberi bought many of the units - in addition to the 30 homes on Arwell Court, he owns about 30 others throughout Pioneer City - which have fallen into disrepair.

Woods learned about the sale when he saw an ad in the newspaper for some of Zuberi's other properties in Pioneer City.

Most of Zuberi's Arwell Court units are boarded up and vacant, the result of a Health Department lawsuit that pointed to more than 1,000 violations.

Zuberi's attorneys declined to comment.

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