January 25, 2006
1708-1710 Madison Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21217
Re: 1704 Madison Avenue
Dear Mr. Taylor,
I am writing in response to your
e-mail dated January 23, 2006. I
appreciate your taking time to respond to my efforts to reach you last week by
phone. The purpose of my call was to
hear first hand your account of the complaints that prompted your letter to
Council President Dixon the week prior.
Failing that, I am writing to
inform you of the steps my office is taking relative to 1704 Madison
Avenue. It is the intention of the
Department of Housing to sell this property to a responsible individual to
rehab the property for home ownership.
The sooner that can be accomplished, the better off both the community and
the city will be.
Toward that end, the property has
been re-listed with a private broker.
Bids will be accepted until Friday, January 27th. Once the bid deadline has passed, the broker
will forward bids to the Office of the Comptroller. Upon receipt of the bids, a panel comprised of staff members from
two city agencies will review the bids and submit a recommendation to sell the
property. The panel will consider a
variety of factors in formulating its recommendation, among other things: the
feasibility of the proposed development, the development experience of the
bidder, and the bidder’s history of housing code violations or financial
difficulty. That recommendation is
forwarded to Commissioner Graziano and, upon his concurrence, to the Board of
Estimates for final approval. The buyer
is then given 60 days to obtain financing and close the transaction. As long as the buyer is showing progress
toward obtaining financing, the City will grant additional time to settle.
The process I’ve just described
can take several months or more depending upon the condition of the property
and the number of interested buyers. It
may frustrate you and prospective buyers that we insert conditions into our
contracts or take weeks to conduct our due diligence. We feel strongly that those safeguards are important and that any
time added to the process results in a more qualified buyer and a better result
for the neighborhood.
Significantly, those conditions
are well publicized and we advise prospective buyers in advance what is
expected of them. If nothing else, we
apply our process fairly and evenly to potential purchasers. Despite full knowledge of the rules, some
purchasers still attempt to circumvent the process and re-write the rules. Inexplicably, when a buyer backs out of a
transaction 6 months into the process because the buyer is unable to satisfy
our conditions of sale, the City is blamed for the failed transaction.
The SCOPE process that you deride
has sold 100 properties in the past 3 years.
It is a successful program as measured against past efforts to sell
city-owned properties. Its success is
due, in large measure, to the work of numerous individuals -- private citizens
and government employees – who worked many hours together to help improve this
city through the sale of vacant property.
The process is by no means
perfect and there is room for improving it further. I’ll gladly consider any constructive suggestions you have for
improving the process.
Finally, I understand there has been some history of
un-authorized entry at the property since it was listed with SCOPE. Should you notice that the door has been
forced open, I ask that you notify one of my staff so that she may make
arrangements to have it secured. You
should contact Ms. Patrice Sowah at 443-984-1645. If she does not acknowledge receipt of your complaint in 1
business day, you should contact me at 443-984-1647 or by e-mail at
Michael.Bainum@baltimorecity.gov. I ask
that you do NOT contact 311 to request that the property be boarded. This will restrict the broker’s access to
the property and serve to lengthen the time it takes for the City to sell the
cc. Mayor Martin O’Malley
Paul T. Graziano
Commissioner Chris Shea
Kimberly Washington, Constituent Services