Canton complex auction draws 'serious players'


Baltimore may be reeling from the recession as much as any city, but the Canton waterfront still has strong appeal to investors, judging by the turnout and spirited bidding for a 56-unit apartment complex sold at auction there yesterday.

Baltimore investor Jack Stollof, representing M&H; Properties Inc., was the high bidder for the waterfront property known as The Shipyard, with an offer of $2,000,100 or about $35,700 per unit.

Mr. Stollof was one of 67 people who crowded into the lobby of the four-story apartment building for the auction, a foreclosure sale on behalf of Provident Bank of Maryland. Bidding started at $1 million and rose steadily.

Mr. Stollof declined to comment on his plans for the complex, which includes 22 boat slips and more than an acre overlooking Baltimore's harbor. The building is more than 95 percent occupied, and the new buyer must honor the residents' leases.

Ray Nichols, president of Atlantic Auctions, which handled the sale, said the auction showed that real estate will sell despite the economic downturn.

"We had serious players today,"he said. "For any of these projects that make economic sense and have reasonable value, there are buyers. The market is not as bad as everybody's been suggesting. The free fall has ended."

Located at 2635-2639 Boston St., The Shipyard takes its name from a nearby property where the frigate Constellation, now berthed in the Inner Harbor, was built in the late 18th century.

The building was constructed in 1874 to house the Chipman Chair Co., a supplier of walnut, maple and bent oak chairs, and was sold in 1913 to the Edward Renneburg & Sons Co., which made machine parts. Partner John Renneburg sold it in 1985 to Historical Developers of Pennsylvania, which converted it for residential use.

Historical Developers sold the building in 1986 to an investor syndicate that filed for protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code two years later. The auction marked the first time a residential project in Canton has been the subject of a foreclosure sale since developers began building housing along the formerly all-industrial waterfront in the early 1980s.

Mr. Renneburg's Boston Street Corp. and Marine Services Inc. of New York are now marketing a 4-acre parcel next to The Shipyard for $4.5 million through Manekin Corp. The land is zoned for industrial use but could be rezoned for residential and commercial use under the waterfront master plan prepared several years ago for Baltimore's city housing department.

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