Galesville property owner puts up cash to attract buyers
Feb 03, 2013 (The Capital - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Adam Hewison wants to sell his property so badly he's offering a $10,000 bounty.
For nearly three years, he's been trying to sell the three-building Galesville parcel that includes his shuttered HomePort Wine and Spirits. Now, he's pledging $10,000 to anyone who connects him with a buyer.
Through West River Properties, Hewison put it on the market so he could focus on his core business, INO.com, an Annapolis firm that provides stock market information to traders. He expects the site, which also includes an adjoining 144-seat restaurant and four-bedroom house, to fetch at least $1 million.
"It's perfect for someone who wants a career change, and maybe wants to retire," said Hewison, co-founder of the Discovery Village Museum in Shady Side. "We had the best time with the wine store. We met so many great people we would never have met. It used to be a party."
Hewison emailed the wine shop's former customers about the property and monetary offer. The email also included a link to a four-minute video that showcased the site with "All You Need is Love" playing in the background.
Located on the West River, the 2,300-square-foot house dates to 1850, while the rest of the property goes back to 1921. It was known as the Topside Inn when Hewison and business partner Dave Maher bought it in 2004.
They remodeled the 1,900-square-foot shop and leased the restaurant, which had a few different operators and names up until the site's closure in 2010. At one point, it was featured on CBS "The Early Show" segment when anchors took it over for the day.
Commercial retail experts said Hewison's monetary offer isn't unusual, considering many real estate transactions come with various perks. However, the restaurant could be what is making some buyers reluctant, said Dennis Murphy, owner of Murphy Commercial Real Estate.
The prices for restaurants also come with a range of prices. In Annapolis, the former Aqua Terra is on the market for $1.1 million. The Main Street building has 2,800 square feet. A 2,700 square foot barbecue-style restaurant in Laurel is listed for $425,000, according to online real estate records.
"Traditionally, it's tough to sell a restaurant business," Murphy said. "In an area like Galesville, it's got to be a destination. You really have to be tougher during the winter months to generate the income needed to run it 12 months out of the year. You'd probably depend on summer business."
The HomePort video pans through the wine shop, with images of smiling customers carrying wine glasses. It also mentions the site's "New Orleans style balcony with amazing water views" and then shifts to the restaurant side, with its patio seating and views of the West River on a sunny day.
Hewison agreed the restaurant would be a challenge, given that it has already operated under multiple names. The Riverview Inn, which came with a $150,000 remodeling project, sold steaks and seafood from 2006 to 2007. In 2008, it became the Topside Restaurant and offered Sunday jazz nights, seafood and black Angus steaks, according to The Capital archives.
But it could be an opportunity for someone who has expertise in the business and they could either live in the house or rent it out, Hewison said.
"That was where all the locals hung out, and where everyone had such a good time," Hewison said. "It takes a special type of person to be in that business. Those people who are in it and are successful, love it."
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