Only one bid accepted during auction of Catonsville properties

Strawberry Fields property was auctioned Wednesday afternoon

Of the three multi-unit buildings in the heart of Catonsville's commercial district up for auction Wednesday afternoon, only one transferred hands during the unusual event.

Catonsville resident and attorney Eric Lamb, who did not want to comment on the sale, is the new owner of 9 Newburg Ave., a 7,162-square-foot residential office building on which he bid $285,000.

The other two buildings on auction — 821-823 Frederick Road and 825-827 Frederick Road — will remain in the hands of current owner Craig Witzke, who rejected bids on both.

All three buildings were part of Witzke's Strawberry Fields property. Bids were taken on all three multi-unit buildings individually, as a whole and as a pair, in the case of the Frederick Road buildings.

No bids were placed on the combination offers.

Of all the units on auction, he said he thought the Frederick Road buildings would be easiest to move.

"I kept the most valuable properties," said Witzke, after the event.

The Catonsville businessman said that the bids he received on the other two buildings — $350,000 for the 821-823 address and $300,000 for the 825-827 address — were below the figures he had in mind.

Witzke said he was happy with the turnout of more than 40 people who gathered in the courtyard area behind the Frederick Road property to bid on the commercial buildings and to watch the process.

But he stressed that he felt no pressure to sell them for a price that was less than what he had in mind.

"I was just trying to simplify my life," said Witzke, who opened the Candle Light Funeral Home at 1835 Frederick Road in 2014 after purchasing what had been the Candle Light Inn.

For now, Witzke will continue to own the buildings that house The Hub/C'Ville Bikes, You Scream Ice Cream, The Pottery Cove and a number of apartments and offices.

Dan Billig, principal and auctioneer at A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers, conducted the auction. It is somewhat rare for properties placed on auction to not sell at the auction, he said, since most sellers are feeling more pressure to sell.

But the Catonsville situation was unique one, he added.

"The seller was never in a situation where he had to sell them," he said of the buildings. "It was just an opportunity to sell some real estate."

After the auction finished, Billig said at least three people approached him about putting offers in, but nothing formal had been conducted.

"I'm a little disappointed," he said. But "I do have a couple people still interested."

One of the people still interested could be C'Ville Bikes owner Scott Westcoat. Westcoat did not place a bid at the auction, but said he made an offer to Witzke for the property his shop currently occupies ahead of the bidding. The offer, which he said was higher than the bid made on the unit July 8, was rejected.

Witzke said he doesn't mind keeping the buildings for the time being.

"They're very good properties and they bring in a lot of income for me," he said, "so I'm sure I'll hold onto them for a while."

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