Former McCormick property will go back to auction

December 03, 2010|By Edward Gunts, The Baltimore Sun

The former McCormick spice plant property, one of the last major undeveloped parcels near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is headed back to the auction block.

The 1.9-acre parcel at Light and Conway streets will be up for sale Jan. 11 in a foreclosure auction on the premises handled by GoIndustry DoveBid's offices in Owings Mills. An auction scheduled for Nov. 5 was canceled after the property owner, an affiliate of Philadelphia-based ARC Wheeler Equities, sought bankruptcy protection the day before.

The auction has been rescheduled now that the bankruptcy case has been dismissed, according to Bryan Goodman, senior project manager for GoIndustry. This week, GoIndustry began notifying people who had expressed interest and marketing the sale on its website, calling the parcel "Prime Development Property in Baltimore's Famous Inner Harbor."

The land at one time was designated for a project that would have been Baltimore's tallest building — a 59-story skyscraper to be called 10 Inner Harbor, with condominiums, a hotel, shops and parking — but the development never materialized.

According to court records, attorneys for the ARC Wheeler affiliate, Baltimore Inner Harbor LLC, notified the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that their client wanted the case dismissed.

Attorneys said the debtor (Baltimore Inner Harbor LLC) was unable to obtain or pay for insurance, that the debtor had determined that "no equity exists in the property" after the estimated cost of the sale, and that it was unlikely the debtor would be able to come up with a reorganization plan that would provide any return to unsecured creditors. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eric Frank agreed to dismiss the case last week.

The November auction started out as a sale on behalf of Susquehanna Bank, which claimed in court documents that it was owed $24.5 million as of September 2010. Susquehanna sold its loan this fall and no longer has a stake in the proceedings, corporate communications manager Stephen Trapnell said last month.

According to court documents, the new note holder is 414 Light Street Associates LLC. Its resident agent is listed as Stephen M. Gorn of Pikesville.

The ARC Wheeler affiliate is indebted to 414 Light Street Associates for about $24.3 million, plus another $12 million in unsecured debt, court documents show. As of July 1, the site had an assessed value of $16.3 million, or about $8.5 million per acre.

The value of the Light Street property potentially rose last month when the Greater Baltimore Committee disclosed that it was studying a plan to build an 18,000-seat arena and convention center expansion less than a block from the McCormick site.

"Somebody with the vision and the money could really tie the two together," Goodman said.

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