Baltimore building inspectors condemned the House of Welsh tavern yesterday, which might indefinitely delay opening a $1 million nightclub in the 170-year-old structure.
Inspectors determined the building, at Guilford Avenue and Saratoga Street, was not safe, so investors must submit plans for repairing it before work can proceed, said Zack Germroth, spokesman for the department of Housing and Community Development.
They must also submit design plans for the nightclub and obtain work permits, Germroth said.
"What this does is bring all those pieces together to make sure all the work is done to code and it all fits together in a sound, safe way," Germroth said.
City inspectors halted work on the building last week when they discovered contractors were restoring it with an expired work permit, Germroth said.
Stephen Carullo, one of the investors who was working with a New York designer to turn it into an upscale nightclub, believes he is being unfairly targeted. He said it is impossible to supply the necessary plans to the city until he first reinforces the building.
"It is kind of hard to go in and create new plans, when you have not found all the structural problems that are going to arise yet," Carullo said. "We can not create a full set of plans in advance for all this work going into a nightclub that will have a lot of energy and vibe to it."
The Formstone-clad building comprises three 1830s rowhouses that were connected. It housed the House of Welsh bar and steak house from 1900 to 1998.
The nightclub, which was to be called Element, was scheduled to open by the end of the year. Carullo said that the project will now be delayed by several months.
The condemnation order comes six weeks after City Council President Sheila Dixon expressed concern at the number of nightclubs opening near City Hall downtown, but Germroth said that did not influence inspectors' decision.