Four parcels of prime waterfront property at HarborView near the Inner Harbor that could hold a total of 1,548 residential units were listed for sale Monday.
The land is part of the 42-acre community, a multi-faceted, luxury residential development located off Key Highway marked by a high-rise condominium tower built in the early 1990s.
Development on the remaining properties has been stymied by the recession, leading HarborView Property Development Co. to seek a joint venture partner, private equity or buyer for the project’s future development.
Frank Wise, vice president for HarborView Property Development, said Monday the action was not “a distress sale,” but rather an effort to align with a new equity partner. Lubert-Adler, an investment firm in Philadelphia, has been an equity partner in the project since 1998.
“We are simply soliciting proposals to see who might be the best fit for the future,” Wise said.
“A la carte is available,” he added, of selling the properties individually. “But a package is preferable.”
No base price had been set, Wise said, and possibilities may include a high-rise tower of luxury rental properties.
“Market rate rentals seem to be doing well in the Baltimore market now,” he said. “And we think the rental market will continue to heat up over the next few years. Some people, especially young people, have become gun-shy about buying in this environment.”
Two of the HarborView parcels for sale have been approved by city officials for high-rise towers to hold nearly 350 residential units. They have major foundation work already in place, such as underground structured parking. One planned tower, The Pinnacle, never broke ground.
Commercial Realtor CB Richard Ellis has listed the sale and has set a Feb. 1 deadline for bids.
“HarborView is one of the most successful waterfront communities in downtown Baltimore,” said Mike Muldowney, executive vice president of CBRE’s Washington-based multi-housing investment team. “These parcels represent a unique opportunity as the last developable parcels of this stellar project.”
The HarborView project has 77 townhomes, 88 homes built on piers and 413 residential condos. In addition, the development has 340 boat slips and a restaurant.
Most units are occupied, Wise said.
The sale comes at a time when luxury condos at or near Baltimore’s glittering waterfront are slow to sell or rent. In part, the problem is based on restricted lending practices, an oversaturation of the market and falling housing prices in the metropolitan area because of the high rate of foreclosures and resales.
Cindy Conklin, co-owner of the realty firm Yerman, Witman, Gaines & Conklin, said the four-parcel HarborView sale was a reaction to those issues.
“The supply and demand is currently out of sync,” she said. “Who would lend on a brand-new project right now? There are so many layers of issues.”
The HarborView sale was announced the day before auctioneers were scheduled to sell another prime piece of real estate at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor — the former site of the McCormick & Co. manufacturing plant at 414 S. Light St., across from Harbor Place. That auction is to take place Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the site.
HarborView, located about a mile away from the McCormick site, was not always so luxurious. The development is built on the site of an old ship building and repair facility, once the mainstay of the city’s blue-collar heritage.
The development has been stung by the recession in recent years — only 46 of the 88 Pier Homes units had sold by last spring, prompting owners to hold an auction in late June where luxury condos sold for between $516,000 and $956,000. The original asking prices were $896,000 and $2 million, respectively.
At the time, HarborView’s owners said they were hoping to reset the prices of luxury condos along the harbor, which had been overdeveloped during the real estate boom and then remained empty as the recession hit.
About two months after the Pier Homes auction, the owners of the Ritz-Carlton Residences, located next to Pier Homes, announced they were dropping prices on certain units by about 30 percent.