Frederick Road commercial property in Catonsville on auction

Strawberry Fields property will be auctioned off July 8

Changes are coming to the retail section of Frederick Road this summer.

Three properties in the heart of Catonsville's commercial revitalization district will be up for sale to the highest bidder July 8.

The properties include 821-823 Frederick Road, 825-827 Frederick Road and 9 Newburg Avenue. They are all owned by Catonsville businessman Craig Witzke, who said he is selling the buildings in order to focus his attention on his new Candle Light Funeral Home, which he opened in 2014.

"It's a great property," Witzke said of the Frederick Road and Newburg Avenue land. "I was very lucky to have owned it."

Witzke bought the two Frederick Road properties in 2003. Combined with the Newburg Avenue property, and 829 Frederick Ave. and 11 Newburg Ave. — both of which were eventually sold to their tenants, Catonsville Gourmet and Wall to Wall Construction — he called the parcel Strawberry Fields.

The decision to auction the property off rather than use a more traditional transactional sale route, Witzke said, was for the benefit of current tenants, which include The Hub C'Ville Bikes, Pottery Cove, two law offices and a makeup studio.

"It's the least disruptive way for the tenants," he said, adding that the selling by auction meant businesses would not have to endure tours by prospective buyers.

Witzke said he hopes the auction allows for more local people and companies to pursue ownership of the property. There is no set asking price.

"Everybody in Catonsville will have a chance to buy it," he said.

At The Hub, owner Scott Westcoat hopes to be one of those people. In the past, he said, he has made offers on the location, at 821 and 827 Frederick Road, but Witzke turned him down.

In the event he does not win the auction, Westcoat said he is prepared to reevaluate his location at the end of his lease, which expires in mid-2017.

"We wish whoever gets the building good luck," he said. "We know we're here for another 27 months."

Michele D'Anna, owner of Pottery Cove, located at 825 Frederick Road, said she has enjoyed her time at the property, but has been considering a move to a site with better visibility from the street for awhile.

The news she received late last month of the change in ownership hasn't worried her too much, but she is concerned about the effect a new landlord could have on her rent.

"I didn't want to be concerned, but it's something I guess I should be thinking about," she said. "I'll just take it as it comes."

At You Scream Ice Cream, also located at 821 Frederick Road, Phillip Chase, who owns the shop with his wife, Rhonda, said he hopes the new owner will be amicable and easy to work with.

"Whatever happens, will happen," he said. "I have no control over what happens."

The leases of current tenants will be honored, said Dan Billig, who will lead the auction for A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers on July 8. After the leases run out, though, it will be up to the tenants and the new owner to work out any new agreements.

The sale marks the first time in Billig's memory that the company has had the opportunity to auction off a property like Strawberry Fields.

"It's an unusual opportunity, to be able to buy three commercial properties basically on the same block in that area," he said, noting the strength of the Frederick Road commercial district. And "I've sold a lot of stuff."

Bidders will have some options when they come to the auction at 2 p.m. on July 8. They can either bid on one of the three properties individually, bid on the Frederick Road properties together or bid on all three together. Bid will be taken and reserved for all options and then tallied to determine which is the most profitable sale, Billig said.

Those looking to get involved in the sale can go to ajbillig.com and fill out the bidder preregistration form, Billig said.

The auction will be held on the backside of the Frederick Road properties and each bidder must come prepared with a cashier's check of $25,000 for each individual property or $75,000 for all three, he said.

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