Patterson Park auction
1) Some neighbors organized to bid as a group -- that's not something you see every day.
2) They won the bidding war.
3) But they didn't get the building.
Why? Because the lender was owed more than $790,000 and didn't want to accept $298,000 -- a haircut in excess of 60 percent. So the renovated property, which sits at the corner of Baltimore Street and Linwood Avenue, will be auctioned off again at a later date.
For those who enjoy auction scenes, here's how this one went:
About two dozen people gathered on the ground floor, which used to be the restaurant Three... and still looked like it was ready to serve lunch. "Handcrafted cocktails," promised a sign on the wall. Plates and bowls were stacked neatly in the kitchen. Through the windows, you could see the northeastern corner of the park the Baltimore neighborhood is named after.
Alex Cooper Auctioneers' Paul Cooper, standing near the empty bar, declared: "Ladies and gentlemen, an excellent opportunity, very well-located building."
He set the starting bid at $250,000, and then the competitors were off -- at a fairly sedate pace, full of pauses and whispered consultations. When it got up to $297,000 and Cooper could see the bidders were flagging, he called a "momentary break" and went off to talk to the lender.
"Do I hear $300,000 on it?" he asked as he returned.
"$298," said Amina Chaudhry, 34, one of the seven neighbors bidding together.
"I've got $298 ... $298,000, any more?" Cooper said beseechingly. "$298,000, any more? $298,000 once -- are there any other bids? $298,000 twice -- are you bidding or are you out?"
This last was directed at local landlord Tom Karle, who had been in the running up to that point. "I'm out," Karle said.
"If there's no other bids in excess of $298,000, then my instructions are we're going to reject that bid and call it a no sale," Cooper said.
To the neighbors afterward, he added: "You still have an opportunity."
This sort of ending doesn't happen often, but it does happen, he said.
CDC founder Ed Rutkowski came to watch, looking somber. Three... owner Michael Harmel was there too.
"The neighborhood's fantastic," Harmel said afterward. "I'm very sad to be going -- just too much overhead and not enough traffic."
From his spot inside the building Friday, he added: "It would be nice to see the neighborhood hang on to this."