Foreclosure deadline looms for FishmarketDeveloper Frank McCourt's...


Foreclosure deadline looms for Fishmarket

Developer Frank McCourt's race to retain control of the Fishmarket is headed down to the wire. The Boston-based developer still is working to buy out a company that purchased the city's right to foreclose on the property in lieu of back taxes.

GAA Inc. of Baltimore, which bought the foreclosure rights from another investor in January, went to Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan to seek permission to foreclose. Judge Kaplan gave Mr. McCourt's company and creditors who hold liens on the Fishmarket until Friday to file objections.

The foreclosure petition seeks title to the property free of liens.

Local developer and thrift executive Jack Stoloff signed the court papers for GAA, but the company has not disclosed its plans for the property.

Spokesman Merrill Diamond said Mr. McCourt is determined to reopen the Fishmarket and is working with city officials, bankers and others to make that possible.

Richard Kagan, an attorney in the city solicitor's office, said in January that Mr. McCourt could prevent the foreclosure by paying GAA the $662,000 that the city was owed in back taxes on May 13, 1991, when the city originally sold the foreclosure lien, plus 24 percent annual interest that has accrued since that date and an allowance for court costs, attorneys' fees and other expenses.

But don't assume, Mr. Diamond said, that McCourt Co. will let GAA take title to the property unless McCourt can assemble a comprehensive package allowing the Fishmarket to reopen.

"The tax sale issue is an important issue, but not the only issue," Mr. Diamond said. He did not explain in detail what is necessary to reopen the Fishmarket, one of the most notable failures of the Inner Harbor revitalization of the 1980s.

The Fishmarket opened on Market Place in December 1988 and closed eight months later.

Towson building site to go on block

The developer was willing, but the market was weak. And so the owner of an office building site at 111 E. Chesapeake Ave. in Towson will put the land on the auction block.

The owner "decided to have the auction to reinitiate interest in the property," said Paul Cooper, vice president of Alex Cooper Auctioneers, which is handling the March 26 auction. The owner has county approval to build a 57,000-square-foot office building on the site.

The property has been listed with a broker but has not sold, Mr. Cooper said. The asking price is about $1.5 million.

The owner, 111 East Chesapeake Partnership, obtained the county approval in 1988, Mr. Cooper said. It has been renewed since and is valid through October 1994.

The site is near the planned District Court building, which could provide an edge in wooing law firms and other tenants.

But the building would be hampered by the soft Towson office market.

Constellation abandons single-tenant plans

The market also has caused a change of plans for Constellation Real Estate Inc.

Columbia-based Constellation plans to offer its building at 131 National Business Parkway in Annapolis Junction to multiple tenants. The company had been hoping to lease the building to a single user, company spokesman Larry Lichtenauer said.

Constellation isn't close to any deals that would make a dent in the 68,000-square-foot building's vacancy rate but is talking to prospects, he said.

The shift comes amid some good news at the same office park. Constellation said Stanford Telecom, a California-based manufacturer of electronic and communications systems, has decided to lease 30,871 square feet of office space for 10 years at 141 National Business Parkway, part of the same complex the vacant building is in.

"Thirty-thousand square feet is one of the biggest leases of the year in Anne Arundel County," Mr. Lichtenauer said. Stanford will move from Annapolis.

The building that Stanford will occupy this summer is 98 percent leased, he said.

State purchase nears for 6 St. Paul Centre

The mini-soap opera attending legislative approval of state plans to buy 6 St. Paul Centre in downtown Baltimore appears to be approaching a denouement. The capital budget subcommittee of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee approved the $12.2 million deal last week.

Things had been getting tense because some senators had concerns about the building's price and its relative shortage of -- parking in the structure. The deal with owner Chemical Banking Corp. of New York is due to run out at the end of the month.

Dave Humphrey, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, said House approval might come without a vote because of the support of House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent.

Money for the purchase was approved last year, so the only legislative approval needed for the purchase is a letter from the heads of spending committees in the House and Senate. The letter can be signed without a subcommittee vote such as the one in the Senate.

The deal then would have to be approved by the state Board of Public Works.

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