Tom Clancy buys three more condos at the Ritz-Carlton

December 14, 2010|By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun

As spacious as they are, Tom Clancy's three penthouse condos at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Baltimore proved too small for the best-selling novelist. Now he has six.

Clancy bought the additional properties this fall for almost $2.2 million, a fraction of what he paid per square foot just last year, according to state property records. The condos were among those that sold since the developer of the struggling upscale project, located alongside the Inner Harbor, lowered prices over the summer.

Clancy, best known for his thrillers starring Jack Ryan, increased his square footage from about 12,000 to just over 17,000 — the equivalent of seven average-sized new U.S. houses. He now owns the entire penthouse level of one of the Ritz-Carlton's six buildings.

Messages left for Clancy's attorney, who spoke about his previous condo purchase, were not returned.

It hasn't been an easy time to sell high-end properties. The Ritz-Carlton Residences started construction in 2004 when the housing market was strong but opened in 2008, as sales activity was slumping and a severe national recession was taking hold.

Developer RXR Realty, which declined to comment on Clancy's new purchases, said it lowered prices by 5 percent to 30 percent on 30 condos in August. Since then, 10 units have sold.

That brings total transactions to 33 in the 190-unit complex. Fourteen more condos are under contract, said Joe Graziose, senior vice president and project executive at RXR Realty.

He plans to lower prices on 30 additional units in January, also by up to 30 percent.

Real estate agents expected price drops across Baltimore's luxury market after the Pier Homes at HarborView auctioned off 18 units in June for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the previous asking prices. The high-end townhouse project, just south of the Ritz-Carlton, wanted to inject new life into its sales.

Clancy's most recent purchase, first reported by The Daily Record, came 10 months after he spent $12.6 million to buy three penthouses that were consolidated into one.

Others are also planning to turn multiple units into a single living space. Graziose said two deals under contract now would each combine a pair of adjoining condos.

Prices in the complex range from $500,000 to $4 million, Graziose said. The site includes a marina, a spa and space for a restaurant, which the staff is in final negotiations to fill. Graziose said the new restaurant operator will likely be announced in the spring.

"We hope to open it by the end of next year," he said.

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