Olympian Phelps living in $1 million Canton loft

October 03, 2012|By Steve Kilar | The Baltimore Sun

It appears that the world’s most decorated Olympian has moved into a stylish loft just steps from one of Baltimore’s liveliest locales.

Though Swimmer Michael Phelps has not confirmed details about his new abode, it seems to be an open secret among Canton’s locals that Phelps is living in a million-dollar compound on South Curley Street.

The amalgam of red brick buildings that neighbors say Phelps has called home since before the London Olympics is just off O’Donnell Square, a park ringed by bars and restaurants.

Phelps is seen regularly in the square and its surrounding establishments, neighbors say. Baltimore magazine, in an article in the July issue, said Phelps enjoys “grabbing a drink with friends near his new place in Canton.”

John Martino, a Baltimore attorney who lives two doors down from the 6,800-square-foot home, said Phelps has been living there since the spring.

“It’s like a modern loft,” Martino said. Most of the first floor is garage space – 2,800 square feet – and the living space is on two upper floors.

Floyd Keller, who has lived in a row house across the street for more than 30 years, said his neighbors agree that Phelps lives there, though Keller himself has not seen the Olympian come or go.

The property, which used to house a printing company and was featured by the Wall Street Journal last summer, sold in February for $1.03 million to an anonymous trust. Baltimore’s Circuit Court does not require trust agreements, which may reveal the person the trust serves, to be filed as part of a property’s transfer records.

The trust paid in full for the house at the time of purchase. Public records show that the Fells Point place Phelps bought in his own name in 2007 for $1.69 million was sold in July to an Exelon executive for $1.25 million.

The trustee who signed the deed for the South Curley Street home, Towson estate planning attorney David N. Pessin, did not respond to voicemail and email inquiries from the Sun about whether Phelps was the purchaser. Neither did Phelps’ agent, Drew Johnson, who is with Octagon sports management.

But Pessin, who represents many athletes, has a “signed Michael Phelps swimming cap, complete with his winning time” in his office, according to a 2010 article in The Daily Record, Baltimore’s legal and business affairs newspaper.

Three other pieces of evidence suggest Phelps is calling the Canton structure his new home: 

  • The mailing address for the trust that is listed on the deed is "c/o Octagon, 1751 Pinnacle Drive, Ste 1500, McLean, VA 22102." That is the address for Octagon sports management's financial services division.
  • Heidi Krauss, a high-end property broker, was the listing agent for Phelps’ Fells Point condo and acted as the agent for the trust that bought the Canton home. She declined to say who the trust benefits. 
  • On Friday, a FedEx missed delivery sticker was posted on the door of the property. The recipient was listed as “J. Gross” – possibly Jeff Gross, the poker player who has long been Phelps’ housemate.
Andrew McQuaid, the South Curley Street home’s prior owner, said he never met the buyer.

A real estate agent who owned the house for eight years, McQuaid renovated it and listed the property for sale in June 2011, for $1.1 million. But he declined to talk about the work he did to modernize the industrial buildings, and make them fit for one of Charm City’s biggest celebrities.

According to sales materials, the north building was built around 1880 and the south building was built between 1903 and 1913.

“Both structures were likely originally utilized as accommodation for transport livestock,” according to the marketing materials.

“What remains today of the original construction are the exterior brick masonry bearing walls of both structures, including the facades,” several interior load-bearing walls and wood-beam framing, the sales booklet reads.

The two-and-a-half bath, three-bedroom house has two fireplaces, skylights, a hot tub and a rooftop bar offering views of the city skyline. There are hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and exposed brick walls.

“It’s amazing,” said Martino, who is friends with McQuaid and spent time in the house. “I miss being able to hang out there.”

Have a real estate news tip or experience to share? Email me at steve.kilar@baltsun.com.

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