In 2009, Somerset completed the historic renovation of the Professional Arts Building, an eight story mid-rise building built in 1927 located in the heart of the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to its rehabilitation as an historic landmark in the neighborhood, the building had been more than 75% vacant for over a decade. The building was converted from office uses (historically medical, legal and other professionals) to 96 market rate residential rental apartments. The neighborhood is close to major transportation lines and is home to the Washington Monument (now newly restored), the Walters Art Gallery, the Peabody Conservatory of Music and City State, as well as shops, a grocery store, and restaurants.
Mayor Sheila Dixon and Congressman Elijah Cummings officiated at the ribbon cutting in June 2009, along with many other dignitaries, residents, and neighbors. Somerset and its joint venture partner NAGE Housing, Inc. acquired the building in 2006. Somerset oversaw the design and the renovations which preserved and restored the historic elements, as well as addressed the issues of a decade of deferred maintenance to make it a modern, more energy efficient apartment building. The renovations included repair of the original terra cotta balustrade, refurbishment of the main lobby and the elevator lobbies in the upper floors, and restoration of the store front on Cathedral Street. A new fitness center, a business center and community room and secure access in a walkable neighborhood with arts, culture, and green space make this a popular place to live for young adults, professionals, and empty nesters.
A new café called Café Filí —providing breakfast, lunch and dinner— opened in the summer of 2017 in the ground floor retail space to replace Milk & Honey. Café Filí features Mediterranean small plates, pastries and gourmet coffee, providing an important amenity to the residents of the apartment building and the Mount Vernon neighborhood.
Learn more at www.cafefili.com.
The project received approximately $2.7 million in Maryland state historic tax credits, as well as approximately $4.2 million Federal Historic Tax Credits to preserve the building.
Learn more at www.professionalartsbuilding.com.