Load of Fun, a century-old former car dealership on North Avenue that had operated as an arts center until building inspectors forced it to close last year, has been sold to the Baltimore Arts Realty Corp.
Although plans for the building are still being developed, a spokesman for BARCO said it would continue to be "devoted to artists, as it was before."
Tentative plans call for retail uses on the first floor, the proceeds from which would be used to subsidize low-cost studio space for artists on the second floor, said Taylor C. DeBoer of the Deutsch Foundation, a major funder of BARCO. The third floor could be used as office space for arts organizations, he said.
The possible retail uses include a restaurant or cafe, gallery and performance space, DeBoer said.
In a letter sent to "Friends and Supporters" Friday, former owner Sherwin Mark, who purchased the building in 2005, said he was unable to raise the more than $700,000 needed to bring the building up to code.
"As a result I had no other choice but to sell a vacant building that had become a significant financial drain on my personal financial resources," Mark wrote.
The building, at 120 W. North Ave., dates to 1906-1914. Several auto dealerships called it home over the years. Before Mark purchased the property, its most recent tenant was Lombard Office Furniture, from which the name Load of Fun ("LOmbArD OFfice FUrNiture") was adapted.
Until it was shut down last year, Load of Fun served as headquarters for a handful of artists and arts groups, including Single Carrot Theater and Make Studio, a workshop and showplace for artists with disabilities.