Recent Harborplace Receivership Shows How MCRA, Drafted with Input from Offit Kurman Attorney Joyce Kuhns, Paves Way for Business Revitalization
For Immediate Release
Baltimore, MD | July 25, 2019 A new Maryland law is poised to go into effect that could help revitalize Harborplace, the once-bustling Baltimore Inner Harbor Retail attraction that has suffered years of neglect. The law, titled the Maryland Commercial Receivership Act (MCRA), was enacted by Governor Hogan on April 30 and will go into effect on October 1.
Offit Kurman attorney Joyce A. Kuhns was a member of the special committee of lawyers and professionals who drafted the initial legislation. Ms. Kuhns testified before both Houses of the Maryland General Assembly in support of enacting MCRA.
Passed unanimously by both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly, MCRA clarifies historically nebulous legal issues surrounding the powers of a receiver—i.e. an individual whom the state has placed in charge of a property. State court receiverships are involuntary judicial proceedings brought by either creditors or government regulators to preserve, maintain, and dispose of property located within the state. MCRA expressly gives receivers the power to sell property free and clear of liens (under enumerated conditions), to assume or reject executory contracts, to operate a business, to avoid preferences and fraudulent transfers, and to hire and compensate professionals.
A June court decision indicates how the new law may shape receivership proceedings. The Baltimore Sun reports that “[a] Baltimore Circuit Court judge appointed a receiver to take control of the pavilions on Pratt and Light streets, taking the property out of the hands of owner Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp.” Prior to the judge’s decision, Harborplace had undergone numerous renovation attempts and redevelopment plans, all of which stalled or failed to materialize, ultimately driving away visitors and tenants. The receiver recently delivered a 103-page report to the court providing an independent evaluation of the circumstances leading to Harborplace's current condition, a first step in a turnaround.
Ms. Kuhns formerly represented the committee of equity holders of General Growth, the REIT that sold Harborplace to Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp in 2012 for $100 million dollars. She commended the judge’s decision as a positive step forward for Baltimore and the city’s real estate, retail, and tourism business communities.
“The recent appointment by a judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court of a receiver over Harborplace, once the crown jewel of the Inner Harbor, hopefully will show how receiverships can create a path for successful sale and redevelopment opportunities,” said Ms. Kuhns.
With extensive experience at the national and regional levels, Ms. Kuhns brings her in-depth knowledge in delivering creative solutions to help transform financial challenges to successful outcomes. In her practice at Offit Kurman, she represents businesses as debtors and creditors, along with creditors’ committees and equity committees. She also regularly serves as an advisor to trustees and regulators.
Ms. Kuhns leverages her understanding of the complexities of financial and business structures and her experience with out-of-court resolutions, as well as litigation at the trial through appellate levels, to provide critical strategic advice from the boardroom to the courtroom to a broad spectrum of clients at every stage of the business cycle, including directors and officers of companies in crisis. A pragmatic problem-solver, she uses her cross-disciplinary legal skills to meet the daily business needs of her clients and to help reshape their futures.
Ms. Kuhns is frequently invited to lecture before national and international trade groups on restructuring and commercial law issues and has published in regional and national publications on these issues. She has testified before Congress on key legislation in the restructuring industry.
Ms. Kuhns’ article on MCRA and its implications, “Maryland Commercial Receivership Act Becomes Law,” can be found here on the Offit Kurman blog. To learn more about and contact Ms. Kuhns, please visit her attorney page.
ABOUT JOYCE KUHNS
With extensive experience at the national and regional levels, Joyce Kuhns brings her in-depth knowledge in delivering creative solutions to help transform financial challenges to successful outcomes. Whether representing businesses as debtors or creditors, creditors’ committees or equity committees, or as an advisor to trustees or regulators, Joyce’s understanding of the complexities of financial and business structures and her experience with out-of-court resolutions as well as litigation at the trial through appellate levels enables her to provide critical strategic advice from the boardroom to the courtroom to a broad spectrum of clients at every stage of the business cycle including directors and officers of companies in crisis. A pragmatic problem-solver, Joyce uses her cross-disciplinary legal skills to meet the daily business needs of her clients and to help reshape their future.
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