The article below was originally posted on Baltimore Business Journal.
A former mansion in Mount Vernon designed by the architect of the Bromo Seltzer Tower is the latest addition to Baltimore’s growing co-working spaces.
City House at 6 E. Eager St. started to lease “memberships” to small businesses last year — and filled up its several spaces to capacity in December. The ornate and elegant 16,000-square-foot mansion was designed by Joseph Evans Sperry and was once the city-based home of William Marburg, who made a fortune in tobacco manufacturing in the mid-1800s. Sperry also designed the Bromo Tower, the Mercantile Trust Building and the Equitable Building in Baltimore.
The mansion is the latest entry in Baltimore’s growing co-working landscape and one of the few that offers upscale, yet antique, amenities like conversion of a former safe into a storage room.
“We designed this model for traditionally smaller offices,” said George Watson, partner in Landmark Partners that owns City House and spearheaded its renovation in 2018.
Landmark purchased the mansion in June 2016 for $875,000, state records show.
It is the latest acquisition for the developers in Baltimore. Landmark purchased the Grand Central nightclub at 1001-1003 N. Charles St. in February and are planning to convert the property into a retail and office complex. Landmark is also converting vacant rowhouses at 21 S. Gay St. into Guardian House, an apartment development that will offer units to city police and fire fighters as well as other renters.
The City House project began with a renovation of the interior in 2017. Some of the focus was to restore the ornate ceilings, mahogany woodworking and molding and herringbone patterns on the wood floors. A large and grand stairway is accented by a stained-glass window on the first floor and an antique elevator still lifts visitors and workers to upper levels. The mansion is marked from the street by its iron-gated front door.
Watson said members at City House pay up to $250 per month to use the space that includes work and social areas, conference space and a kitchen in the basement. City House has also been used as a community gathering spot in Mount Vernon and some nonprofits have held meetings there over the past few months, he added.
Tenants who lease office space pay a higher monthly fee. They include a private equity firm, law practice, accounting firm and marketing company.
“We needed a city location so this is convenient to being near the Amtrak station,” said Tom Smith, principal at Savano Capital Partners that leases fourth-floor office space at City House.
The firm has three employees and partners in Washington, D.C. and in New Jersey who commute to Baltimore and meet at City House. Savano signed a five-year lease in the project.