Health clinic buys Mount Vernon's Monumental Life Building

Clinic to consolidate services at North Charles Street landmark

  • Chase Brexton Health Services recently announced its purchase of the Monumental Life Building, which occupies 193,000 square feet of space at Charles and Chase Streets in Mount Vernon.
Chase Brexton Health Services recently announced its purchase… (Joe Soriero, Baltimore…)
July 01, 2011|By Rebekah Brown, The Baltimore Sun

Chase Brexton Health Services announced Friday that it has purchased the Monumental Life Building on North Charles Street and plans to move a clinic and its headquarters there as part of an expansion.

Tracey Gersh, Brexton's chief program officer, said the move will alleviate growing pains felt in the current locations in Mount Vernon. "We're in three different buildings now, so we keep busting at the seams for more room," Gersh said.

The current clinic at Cathedral and Eager streets has gotten busier, with 17,000 patient visits last year and a projected 20,000 visits this year.

The center began in 1978 as a one-room, volunteer-based, gay men's STD clinic at Chase and Brexton streets. It is now a private, nonprofit center that offers a wide range of health services dealing with HIV and AIDS, infectious diseases and dental services. Chase Brexton has other offices that will remain in Howard, Baltimore and Talbot counties.

"We see everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or HIV status. We have a consistent demand for primary care, dental and mental health and addiction services," Gersh said. "This space will help us better meet the demand."

The Monumental Life Building, at 1111 N. Charles St., just north of the Belvedere Hotel, became available in September when Transamerica (formerly Monumental Life) signed a lease for the top nine floors of the 100 Light Street building near the Inner Harbor.

Chase Brexton plans to move into its new home no earlier than April. About 200 employees will be based at the building, which in addition to a clinic could also house retail space and parking. Gersh declined to disclose the purchase price. State tax records show that the primary building is assessed at $4.9 million.

Monumental Life consists of four contiguous structures, the earliest of which was built in 1925. It takes up an entire city block and is located in the Mount Vernon historic district.

Gersh said Chase Brexton plans to preserve the historic look of the building, even though there is potential for new retail storefronts on the street level. "There are a lot of ideas floating around," Gersh said. "We believe having the opportunity to expand in such a historic building is an opportunity to improve the community as well. Retail is one of those options."

Terri Harrington, vice president with MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, represented Chase Brexton in its search for a new building, which took several years. She said the University of Baltimore was one of several prospective buyers.

Paul Warren, the chair of development for the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association, said members are "thrilled" about the longtime community organization making the transition. "It's not easy to find property in Mount Vernon, so we're happy that we're keeping them and keeping the building filled. They're good neighbors."

Gersh said employees "feel honored" to be occupying the Charles Street landmark. "We're only 33 years old," she said. "We want to be viewed as a focal point within the community. We're excited to be associated with such a beautiful and historic structure."

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