The trustees of Baltimore Clayworks have turned down a purchase offer from a businessman who wants to help the art organization retain at least one of its two buildings in Mount Washington.
Real estate professional Sid Emmer, of Sidney Emmer Builders, said this week that he offered to pay $800,000 to purchase Clayworks’ Gallery building at 5707 Smith Avenue, for continued use by the nonprofit group.
Emmer said his plan was to buy the gallery building and lease it back to Clayworks, which would be able to use the proceeds from the sale to help pay off its debts. The lease rate would be $1 a year for two years.
Clayworks board members announced earlier this year that they planned to sell off one or both of their Mount Washington buildings because the organization was having financial problems. The other building is located across the street at 5706 Smith Avenue.
Last month, the board members said they had received a letter of intent from a nonprofit group that wants to buy both buildings and they expected that offer to be converted into a contract of sale. They later told state legislators the sale price was $3.7 million, but didn’t identify the potential buyer.
A separate group of Clayworks advocates, concerned about the potential sale, formed an organization called the Clayworks Community Campaign to find other ways to address the organization’s financial problems besides selling off all of its real estate. Emmer was working with that group.
Emmer said Thursday that his broker received a message from Clayworks’ real estate agent that his offer was not going to be accepted or countered. He said the message was that “the seller has declined the offer [for 5707] and it’s not in a position to entertain a counteroffer at this time.”
Emmer said he was disappointed his offer was rejected, with no chance for a counter. He said he knew there was a possible offer for both properties. But he said he also knew the two sides were about to begin a mediation period with Maryland Nonprofits Inc. to discuss ways to address Claywork’s financial problems.
The “dialogue” was proposed by state Del. Sandy Rosenberg at a Capital Budget Subcommittee hearing on Clayworks’ situation on May 2. Rosenberg made his suggestion after more than 800 people signed a petition seeking to block the sale of both buildings.
“It seems strange,” Emmer said. “If you are going to mediation, shouldn’t you have all your offers on the table?”
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