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Grand Central, possibly Baltimore's largest gay nightclub, to close under new owners

Grand Central, possibly Baltimore's largest gay nightclub, to close under new owners
Grand Central in Mount Vernon was sold to Landmark Partners for $1.4 million. (David Hobby / Baltimore Sun)

Grand Central, possibly Baltimore’s largest gay nightclub, has been sold.

Former owner Don Davis confirmed the sale of the 15,000-square-foot property at 1001-1003 N. Charles St. Monday afternoon.

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The Mount Vernon property was sold to Baltimore-based Landmark Partners for $1.4 million, Davis said. Davis originally asked for $1.85 million. The turn-key sale included the furniture, equipment, sound system and liquor license. The bar’s liquor inventory was sold separately. The sale was finalized Feb. 28.

“I think the new owners will do some nice things,” said Davis, who now resides in San Antonio.

The club will remain open until the redevelopment plans for the property begin, according to Jon Pannoni, partner at Landmark Partners, a company that was established in the past year. Pannoni declined to provide a timetable the project, which is expected to include office and retail space, or the names of other partners.

“Right now we are still in the planning stage,” he said.

In a news release, the company promised to “continue to operate the business with improvements through our new management team until the full redevelopment is set to commence.”

The redevelopment will include two ground-floor retail concepts and lounge space, according to the release, with the Grand Central pub space replaced by “a full-service lunch/dinner/bar concept open until later hours to maintain the liveliness of the corner.”

Pannoni declined to elaborate whether plans for the property included an LGBTQ nightclub.

“Both retail concepts are intended to be authentic Baltimore food and beverage establishments that are open to all,” the release said. “Our intent is to activate and energize the corner for the community to enjoy, with the goal of enhancing walkability and vibrancy within the neighborhood.”

In the release, Landmark pledged to celebrate Grand Central’s role in shaping the community and to engage community members in the redevelopment process.

Landmark also owns City House, a shared working space located a few blocks away from Grand Central at 6 E. Eager St.

Davis, 67, said his battle with stage four throat cancer prompted him to sell Grand Central.

“I couldn’t manage a cash club being 1,600 miles away battling throat cancer,” he said. “I’m still not out of the woods yet. I find out tomorrow if they got all the cancer.”

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Davis, who has been in the nightclub business a little more than 50 years, opened the bar at 1001 N. Charles St. in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood as Central Station Pub in 1991. He expanded to become Grand Central in 2003. Previously, he owned another gay club, Allegro, which he opened in 1986.

Gay clubs and bars, once a staple in the gay scene, have been rendered less relevant in recent years, according to Davis, who believes that the business model faces an uphill battle throughout the country.

“Gays are now comfortable hanging out with their straight friends,” he said. “Then the internet came along. People are meeting people on the internet. If you keep it open, there are a lot of problems. … I’m going to pass the torch and relax.”

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