The Washington Post

Plaza Loft condos head to auction

Image from 6506 American Blvd.

By any measure, Plaza Lofts 22 is one of the most high-end condominium projects in Prince George’s County. Designed by WDG Architecture and only a short walk from a Green Line Metro station in Hyattsville, the building was topped with an environmentally friendly roof and its exterior was finished in zinc.

Four years since its completion, however, not a single one of the Plaza Lofts has been sold, and it has been years since any were on the market as the project, part of a once-lauded mixed-use complex, has been mired in a complex foreclosure.

On Oct. 28, buyers will have an opportunity to get the units at a discount when the building’s new owner, Resource Real Estate, begins auctioning them off at starting bids ranging from $135,000 to $245,000. Bidding on units in a building next door, One Independence Plaza, will start at $99,000.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Resource purchased unsold portions of the two buildings at University Town Center from Wells Fargo after the bank last year foreclosed on parts of the town center project, a vision of developer Herschel W. Blumberg.

By auctioning off units one at a time, Resource is taking an approach that has been widely used in parts of the country where the housing crash hit harder, but which rarely happens locally.

Image from 6506 American Blvd.

Kevin Finkel, an executive vice president at Resource, said banks often come to the firm with real estate that they do not have the wherewithal to unload on their own. It manages more than 24,000 units in multifamily properties across the country.

“These properties quite frankly have been sitting for a while,” Finkel said. “They’re in need of cleaning and landscaping. So we’re going to clean them up and then start off fresh.”

While the 22 units in Plaza Lofts are higher-end than those in the 112-unit One Independence Plaza, 75 of the units in the larger building sold before the housing collapse and are occupied. Residents enjoy easy access to the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station and a 14-screen Regal movie theater.

Working through auctioneer Impact Real Estate Solutions, Resource will initially auction five of the Plaza Lofts and 28 of the remaining 37 units in One Independence Plaza. All but one of the Lofts have two bedrooms while 21 of the Independence Plaza are two-bedrooms and seven are one-bedrooms. Bidders are required to have $2,500 in certified funds made out in their name and be prepared to put down 3 percent of the purchase price that day.

Finkel, who began advertising the units last week, said that although similar auctions don’t happen with frequency locally, he felt confident about the project’s prospects. “These two properties are the only two new high-rise condominiums that have been built in this area in a very long time,” he said.

He said there was no reason for buyers to be dissuaded because the buildings had been foreclosed upon. “I think all it says is that there was a lot of money that was available to developers before the recession and like many financial bubbles there were things that were built that are needed but not at prices that were initially underwritten,” he said.

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