Baltimore Travel Plaza auction set next month

Lender forecloses on site of hotel and bus terminal

January 23, 2004|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Travel Plaza, an East Baltimore hotel and conference center that includes a Greyhound bus station, is scheduled for foreclosure auction next month.

The 9.6-acre O'Donnell Street site - which includes a 175-room Best Western Hotel and Conference Center, food court, restaurant, gift shop and bus terminal - is to be sold Feb. 3 in front of Baltimore Circuit Court. The lender is owed $9.6 million, according to court records.

Shaffin Jetha, a minority owner in the property, said yesterday that he hoped to avoid the sale by renegotiating a mortgage payment schedule with the lender, listed in court documents as CSFB 98 CI Baltimore Best Plaza LLC.

Jetha said that the travel plaza and hotel began losing money after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that the owners have been negotiating with Lennar Corp., a servicer for the lender. "We're in constant negotiations with them," Jetha said. "We think this is just a ploy on their part."

Jetha is also a majority partner with Focus Development LLC in Baltimore, a separate development company that is building a 116-room Hampton Inn & Suites at Calvert and Redwood streets.

A trustee for Lennar wouldn't comment other than to say the property had been foreclosed on. "There is a default under the loan documents," said Richard M. Kremen, an attorney with Piper Rudnick LLP.

The Best Western will remain open through the auction, general manager Richard Diehl said.

A spokeswoman for Greyhound said the bus terminal wouldn't be affected by the auction either. The station, which has 55 daily departures and said it sold 79,000 tickets last year, has a lease through 2009.

The plaza has changed ownership several times since it was completed in 1987, when it was estimated to be worth $30 million.

Maryland National Bank, which held the debt on the plaza, bought the property at foreclosure auction for $2.85 million in 1992 - far less than the $11.9 million it was owed. H&S Bakery Inc. co-owner John Paterakis Sr. bought the travel plaza from the bank. He sold it to the current owners in 1998.

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