The ownership of this property since the late 1980s is a brilliant illustration of why we need better corporate/LLC transparency in Maryland. Every company mentioned in this laundry list of acronyms (link opens a PDF) can be traced back to Stanley Rochkind, one of Baltimore’s most notorious slumlords and abandoned property owners.
Property Address: 1922 W Franklin Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
Property Owner: SD-15 Corporation, PO Box 32118, Baltimore, MD 21215 (Corporation is not in good standing, charter has been forfeited)
Resident Agent for SD-15 Corporation: Ronald Washington, 1705 E Joppa Road, Suite 300, Baltimore, MD 21234
This is an interesting case of what happens when a property transaction goes wrong from start to finish.
Keshawn Moore, under his LLC, purchased three properties from three different shell companies (UP8 Business Trust, NB4 Business Trust, and N10 Business Trust) controlled by Stanley Rochkind and Charles “Bud” Runkles, including the property above. (The other two were 2100 Penrose, and 2731 W North Avenue.) Stanley’s shell companies issued the mortgage for each of the properties (see mortgage 1, mortgage 2, and mortgage 3 — links open PDFs of each mortgage document prepared by Stanley’s attorney, Brian Spern.)
Apparently Mr. Moore didn’t make timely payments on the mortgages, but instead of initiating foreclosure proceedings against him, the shell companies asked for a money judgement. In each case, the remaining balance of the mortgages, plus costs and fees, were awarded to the shell companies. (Circuit Court 24C15005730, 24C15005731, and 24C15005728.)
I suppose that’s one way of disposing of blighted property, but it also leaves Mr. Moore on the hook for the taxes and large monetary judgements, and ties up the properties in court for a period of time so they can’t be moved into receivership or otherwise disposed of. We have to remove barriers to effective property disposal, otherwise neighborhoods like this one will continue their dramatic decline.
However, it’s always interesting to see how many investor-owned properties, many of which are blighted vacants, end up on the tax sale list. The 2015 list contains a total of 28,857 properties. The liens range from a low of $250 to a high of $1,814,710. Of these properties, 3,743 are owned by LLCs, many of them forfeited (The most notable LLC name has to be Bump Bump Wump of Gump, LLC. Catchy…but forfeited, and they owe $16,128 on a house on Springdale Avenue. Another chunk of properties are owned by corporations, trusts, and other entities — add those to the LLCs and it makes up about a quarter to one third of the list overall.
Seeing all of these properties on the list gives me hope that perhaps they’ll be purchased by someone who will fix them up and do good things with them. I think two thirds of my neighborhood is on the list — at least half. Just one more piece of the fallout from the mortgage bust, and what happens when predatory buyers swoop in and purchase properties with the hopes of getting rich quick.