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Top bidder backs away from deal to buy Sun building

File photo of The Baltimore Sun building on Calvert Street.
File photo of The Baltimore Sun building on Calvert Street. (Jed Kirschbaum / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore developer Mark Sapperstein has backed away from a deal to buy the Calvert Street buildings rented by the Baltimore Sun.

Sapperstein said he informed Chicago-based Tribune Media, which owns 501 N. Calvert Street and a parking garage next door, about his decision about two weeks ago. He said he determined he had too many competing demands on his time, due to other family and business obligations.

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A spokesman for Tribune declined to comment. The move might disrupt the timeline the company laid out this summer, when it told investors it expected to sell the properties by the end of September.

Tribune is a television company that in 2014 spun-off its newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, and started selling the real estate associated with those businesses. It sold a Port Covington parcel, where The Sun's printing press is located, to Kevin Plank's Sagamore Development in 2014. The Sun has a long-term lease on the property.

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Sapperstein, who has worked on the Shops at Canton Crossing and McHenry Row, emerged as a lead bidder for the Calvert Street properties this summer, after about six firms submitted bids for the site.

Russel Powell, vice president of acquisitions for Baltimore-based Atapco Properties, said it is one of the other firms interested in the site. Powell said he didn't know where the firm stood versus other bidders or have a good sense of when a deal with a new buyer might close.

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