Belvedere sold condo conversion planned


The Belvedere, the one-time grand dame of Baltimore hotels whose financial troubles led finally to bankruptcy court, has been sold to a New York group that will convert the midtown landmark into condominiums.

John Hentschell Jr., real estate officer for Baltimore City, said today the group, headed by real estate developer Elliott Sharaby, paid "$3.8 or $3.9 million, which wasn't a lot."

The sale of the 13-story Belvedere came approximately four months after the Meritor Savings Bank of Philadelphia foreclosed on Victor Frenkil, the previous owner.

Sharaby, who has formed Belvedere Realty Corp., plans to open condominium sales offices in the Belvedere on Monday and indicated he will start prices for the building's 112 rooms as low as $45,000.

Hentschell said that price "is an extreme bargain. The Belvedere has features that are unparalleled downtown."

Some of those features, he said, included 10-foot high ceilings, manteled fireplaces, a swimming pool and racquetball courts.

The Belvedere was also known for its Owl Bar & Grill, the John Eager Howard Room restaurant and a 12th-floor ballroom.

Hentschell said the sale price to the New York interests "shows that our strategy was correct, the way we handled it was right."

He was referring to the city's decision to cut its losses after Frenkil had run up an estimated $6.6 million debt to the city on unpaid loans to the Belvedere .

Sharaby, in a prepared statement quoted in The Sun, said he plans to "preserve the ballrooms and other special areas for weddings and parties, and renovations will be in keeping with tTC the style of the building.

"We are seeing a revival in many cities throughout the United States, and the Hotel Belvedere will become a new credit to the city of Baltimore."

Sharaby said while a small one-bedroom unit will start in the "low $40,000" an upper-level two-bedroom condo will sell for $160,000.

Since Jan. 1, most shops, offices and restaurants in the Belvedere building have continued to operate. An adjacent parking garage was included in the sale.

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