Seven bidders arrived for a public auction Friday morning at Havana South restaurant with the hopes of snagging six highly visible Old Port properties on Wharf and Fore streets.

All seven left unhappy.

The properties’ mortgage holder, BACM 2007-3 Wharf Street LLC, whose attorney was running the auction, bought the properties with a bid of $5.9 million.

The parcels — which had been foreclosed on — included 432, 434, 436 and 446 Fore Street, with prominent tenants like Fore Play Sports Pub, Blazin’ Ace smoke shop and Gorgeous Gelato. The Havana South building, at 50 Wharf Street, is also part of the package.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the sale would affect the tenants. BACM executives didn’t respond to a request for comment made through one of their attorneys. The attorney said BACM might not want to share its plans publicly.

Without possessing any knowledge of the new owners, the building tenants didn’t know how to react.

“We don’t know what happens next,” said Donato Giovine, co-owner of Gorgeous Gelato. “We are waiting for some first-hand news.”

Friday’s auction was a bustling affair, the kind seen infrequently since the economic downtown began. Shortly before 10 a.m., about 30 people funneled into the colorful, air-conditioned Cuban restaurant to escape the heat and watch the proceedings.

The auction was delayed for nearly 30 minutes as potential bidders scrambled to gather and hand in their $50,000 mandatory deposit to take part in the auction. Cellphones buzzed and a few bidders paced. Around 10:20 a.m., one attendee shouted, “The suspense is killing me!”

John LaPlante, a representative of J.B. Brown & Sons, one of the largest commercial property owners in the city and an auction participant, said the large number of bidders didn’t surprise him.

“People are looking for deals in this market,” he said.

The opening bid of $3.675 million by BACM, made through its attorney, Lee Lowry, immediately scared away most of the bidders. Only J.B. Brown & Sons and Old Port Retail Holdings — the group being foreclosed on — decided to bid against BACM.

After the price went past $4 million, J.B. Brown & Sons dropped out.

For the next 20 minutes, representatives of BACM and Old Port Retail Holdings repeatedly outbid each other in $100,000 increments.

The representative of Old Port Retail Holdings kept a cellphone to his ear throughout the proceedings, waiting for orders to increase his bids. Similarly, when the price reached $5 million, Lowry called someone from BACM to decide how to proceed.

With the bid at $5.9 million, the representative for Old Port Retail Holdings took five minutes to consider raising his bid to $6 million, but instead decided to bow out. BACM had won.

BACM isn’t a typical mortgage holder like a bank, according to several people who attended the auction. It’s actually a private entity that deals in complicated financial deals known as commercial mortgage-backed securities.

These entities buy bunches of mortgages from banks, pool them together, then sell pieces of that pool to various investors.

It’s not clear why Old Port Retail Holdings was foreclosed on. Nathan Smith, a Portland lawyer who represents the business, said he is not at liberty to explain the circumstances of the foreclosure.

State records list Joshua Dolgin, Neil Dolgin and Kalmon Dolgin of Brooklyn, N.Y., as the company managers. They are also senior partners in a real estate company called Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates.

Although Friday’s $5.9 million price was higher than many of the bidders expected, the properties have actually declined in value over the past four years. In 2007, they sold for $8.31 million.

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

[email protected]


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