Congress Financial struggles to lease historic Marble Bar

The Baltimore Sun

The Marble Bar at the Congress Hotel was quietly re-listed again last week.

The bar/club, which once hosted the likes of R.E.M. and Iggy Pop, went up for lease in December at an undisclosed price.

But it seems no offers materialized. Congress Financial, which bought the hotel last year, retired the bar from the market several months ago, said Henry Deford, the JBL Real estate agent handling the property.

The company listed it for lease because, with all 36 units at the once iconic hotel filled, it also wants to revive the bar, Deford said last year.

The bar would be an attractive get for its history. Housed in the basement of the Congress, a 107-year-old hotel that was once one of the city's most lavish, the Marble Bar became Baltimore's CBGB's in the 70s and 80s. It played host to Thee Katatonix, X and the Slickee Boys, the Psychedelic Furs, and the Talking Heads, among others.

By the 90s, though, it had become so decrepit it was used as the backdrop in Terry Gilliam's "Twelve Monkeys."

In 2001, Eccles & Rouse, an affiliate of developer Struever Bros., spent $7.2 million to restore the building and turn the units into apartments. The affiliate then defaulted on a $2.8 million loan in February and Congress Financial, a group of investors, bought it at auction for $2.35 million.

The bar, though, known for its namesake 70-foot marble bar, has been vacant for years.

One possible reason for the lack of interest is that the bar's liquor license is inactive, according to the Baltimore Liquor Board.

In addition to leasing it, a new manager would have to find a new liquor license, buy it and apply to transfer it to the bar.

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