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Prominent Maryland Investor Purchases $15 Million-Worth of Damaged Properties in Baltimore



Street of residential houses

For many investors, managing their finances often comes down to a number of established rules: for example, look for stocks with higher gross profit ratios (GPR) for more timely and lucrative returns, decrease risk as you age, etc. However, in some cases, even the most prodigious investors will choose to make an investment based on compassion or a sense of civic duty. That seems to be the case in Baltimore, where state agencies announced their willingness to help, and a local developer recently announced plans to invest $15 million to build new stores and a shopping center in areas of West Baltimore damaged by the recent riots.

The eyes of the world turned to Baltimore in the weeks following April 19, when resident Freddie Gray died from a spinal injury he received while in police custody. In response, the city erupted in a series of peaceful protests and destructive riots, drawing national and international media attention. On Thursday, May 7, state officials announced that as many as 300 Baltimore businesses had been damaged during the looting.

In response, state agencies immediately began offering programs to help these companies recover: the Department of Housing and Community Development, for example, is offering no-interest and low-interest loans. Called the Baltimore Business Recovery Loan Program, this offer would make no-interest loans of up to $35,000 available for terms of one to five years. Meanwhile, businesses with greater losses might be able to qualify for another loan program designed to stimulate investment in older communities, which could provide loans as high as $500,000, lower interest rates and repayment terms of up to 15 years. Assistant Secretary Carol A. Gilbert stated that the agency hoped to process loan applications under these programs within 30 days of receipt, as opposed to the typical waiting period, which can take several months.

However, Maryland’s state agencies aren’t the only groups working to help Baltimore heal: Carl Verstandig, president of America’s Realty, LLC, recently announced that he has purchased about a dozen properties sold by their owners after being damaged by the riots. Verstandig, who owns a number of shopping centers in Baltimore City, says he has already received calls from around the country from interested partners and tenants.

Verstandig reportedly has big plans for the damaged properties: he has stated that a deal has already been finalized with Greenwood Properties to develop a 100,000 square foot shopping plaza along North Avenue in a vacant building and an adjacent one-acre property. The shopping center will reportedly feature an international grocery store, urgent care center, restaurants and other tenants. Verstandig says he has offered some tenants discounted or free rent to encourage businesses to help redevelop the area. The shopping center is expected to be completed in a year.

Through America’s Realty, LLC, Verstandig reportedly owns shopping centers in 17 states. However, his business is centered in Maryland, where he owns more than 30 properties, including the Edmondson Village Shopping Center and the Pimlico Center in Baltimore City. One of his biggest projects was the purchase of more than a dozen former 7-Eleven stores across Baltimore, which now operate as independent convenience stores.

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