The article below was originally posted on Baltimore Business Journal.
An eight-story office project with an atrium, balconies and street-level restaurant space is being proposed to replace Grand Central at Charles and Eager streets in Mount Vernon.
Designs for the 37,000-square-foot City House Charles project were released Monday by Landmark Partners, a Baltimore developer that acquired Grand Central at 1001-1003 N. Charles St. in late February for $1.4 million.
They show a multi-level development anchored by the redeveloped three-story rowhouses that now hold Grand Central. The first floor will hold a 2,200-square-foot casual yet upscale restaurant with outdoor seating on Eager Street. Developers hope to attract a local restauranteur. Another potential eatery or retail space will face Charles Street and total 3,000 square feet.
The overall look of the property will change from red brick to a facade of white with black shutters and floor-to-ceiling windows at street level. Upper floors will hold a variety of office spaces from 2,000 to 10,000 square feet anchored by a main entrance on Charles Street with an atrium. Cost estimates are still being worked out.
“We’re trying to respect the historic fabric of the building and to activate the Eager Street facade,” said Jon Pannoni, a principal at Landmark.
Grand Central, considered the city’s largest gay nightclub, has been a fixture in midtown for decades. Its acquisition by Landmark occurred after owner Don Davis put the property up for sale last year. The redevelopment is part of an ongoing push to renew parts of historic Mount Vernon, which has seen a wave of new projects and proposals over the last few years.
SM+P Architects — also located in Mount Vernon — designed City House Charles and that was a plus in keeping with the historic vibe of the community, said George Watson, a principal in Landmark. The design plans will be presented to the community Monday evening at Hotel Revival.
Grand Central will remain open until construction begins. The project will not break ground until it is at least 60 percent leased, Pannoni said. So far, Landmark has pre-leased 30 percent of the office space to unnamed tenants, he added. JLL has been hired as the broker.
“We’re excited about being part of the community and helping to add to it,” Watson said. “We really want to deliver a quality project that will help with the next phase.”
Landmark also owns a former mansion at 6 E. Eager St. called City House located adjacent to where City House Charles will stand. The property has been converted into a co-working space with shared amenities.
The developer is also converting vacant rowhouses at 21 S. Gay St. into the Guardian House apartments that will offer rental units to city police and firefighters among its tenants.
City House Charles is located near another project in the works. Developer Dennis Richter is planning to build a $35 million, 10-story apartment and retail development at Eager and Cathedral streets a block away.
Richter’s project will replace Eddie’s of Mount Vernon market and other historic buildings at 7-15 W. Eager St. with a 175,000-square-foot building filled with 126 apartment units, 45 parking spaces and 15,000 square feet of street-level retail.
Watson and Pannoni — like Richter — will have to present their plans to the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, or CHAP, in the coming months because Mount Vernon is a historic district in Baltimore.
Richter received unanimous approval by the panel in April 2018.