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Mansion auction bids not high enough

Developer Roy MacDowell Jr.’s 28-room mansion in Wayland was up for auction Friday, but bids only reached $5.6 million — short of the $8.3 million needed to satisfy a debt MacDowell owed to Suffolk Construction chief executive John Fish.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File 2013

Developer Roy MacDowell Jr.’s 28-room mansion in Wayland was up for auction Friday, but bids only reached $5.6 million — short of the $8.3 million needed to satisfy a debt MacDowell owed to Suffolk Construction chief executive John Fish.

Home prices may be rising elsewhere in the Boston area, but maybe not in the mega-mansion category.

Bids for the 28-room Wayland estate of developer Roy MacDowell Jr. reached only $5.6 million on Friday, short of the $8.3 million needed to satisfy a debt he owed to Suffolk Construction chief executive John Fish.

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After a handful of bids, the house reverted to the lender, Fish’s Waltham Road Realty LLC. Fish forced the auction in an effort to recoup the money he had loaned MacDowell, a man he has called a friend in news reports.

MacDowell declined to comment on whether he and Fish were still friends. Fish declined to comment.

MacDowell, who took a financial hit in the real estate crash and defaulted on several loans, has been trying to sell the property since 2011. He had initially advertised it for $25 million in 2011 and more recently listed it for nearly $12 million, but found no buyers.

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MacDowell said his family will move out of the house — which boasts six bathrooms, four half-baths, and a home theater — in the coming weeks. He will be relocating nearby, he said.

MacDowell owns several other parcels around the mansion, according to Wayland town records, including a home valued at $1 million.

MacDowell said he and his family will be fine. Their company is involved in large real-estate projects in Hopkinton and Framingham.

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He has been trying to downsize in recent years, MacDowell said, “but not as dramatically and quickly as this. . . . This is one chapter in the book of life.”

MacDowell has owned the Wayland estate for nearly 40 years. As he built a successful real estate empire, MacDowell added to his spread and renovated and rebuilt the house, culminating in 2001 with the construction of the 25,000-square-foot home.

But in 2008, when the market crashed and MacDowell was left with loans to repay and creditors started looking at his assets, including the house.

Fish had lent MacDowell and his company $6 million in a note dated April 1, 2008, with a promise that MacDowell would start repaying it in August of that year. When MacDowell defaulted on the loan, Fish went to court. The two men reached a settlement in late 2009.

MacDowell agreed to pay the original loan amount, interest, and attorney’s fees. By May of this year, the amount MacDowell owed Fish had grown to $8.3 million.

MacDowell said he and his family will be fine. Their company is involved in large real estate projects in Hopkinton and Framingham and looking for other opportunities in Massachusetts, he said.

He hopes Fish finds a good custodian of the Wayland mansion.

“I would love to see a nice family there,” MacDowell said.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.
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