Baltimore’s Tremont Plaza Hotel will soon convert back to its original purpose: apartments.
Five members of the hotel’s sales staff were laid off on Friday after the renovations were announced, said Carol Chatham, a spokeswoman for the hotel’s owner, William C. Smith + Co. of Washington, D.C.
“There is a much bigger demand for the longer-term stay rooms,” Chatham said, adding that hotel rooms would be available there throughout most of 2012. “So many of the hotel guests have gone to the longer-term stay. This is being done in part for corporate clients and for those getting medical care.”
Mercy Medical Center is located across the street from the Tremont, and the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center are a short distance.
Chatham said the Tremont Grand, the historic, ornate banquet hall and meeting space located in the 200 block of North Charles Street owned by the hotel, will continue to operate as a public rental space. More than 100 weddings were hosted at the site last year, including some in the Grand’s top-floor nondenominational chapel, she said. The building, which was purchased from the Masonic order, underwent $25 million in renovations about five years ago, Chatham said.
The hotel’s Plaza Deli, located at the corner of St. Paul Place and Saratoga Street, will be renovated and expanded, she added, as will the hotel’s fitness center in the upcoming months.
The 45-year-old Tremont Plaza building was an apartment house when it was bought by the Smith company in the early 1980s, Chatham said.
It underwent extensive renovations last year centered on converting most of its average-size rooms into one- and two-bedroom suites, complete with kitchenettes, dining areas, a living room and a separate bedroom. Some of the two-bedroom suites offered are 1,400 square feet.
The conversion of the Tremont Plaza into apartments comes at a time when many city officials have called to increase the stock of rental units in center city.
There are 8,500 hotel rooms in Baltimore at present, said Leslie M. Cox, a spokeswoman for Visit Baltimore, the city’s tourism bureau.
With the opening of other high-end boutique hotels such as the Hotel Brexton and the Hotel Monaco in the downtown area, potential guests have a lot of options.
“I don’t think it speaks poorly about the hotel market in the city,” said William H. Cole IV, the city councilman whose 11th District includes the Tremont, of the conversion to apartments. “It speaks strongly to the fact that we have an appealing residential growth in downtown.”
The number of hotel rooms in Baltimore has tripled over the past decade, Cole estimated, and competition for guests has sharpened.
“They’ve booked more rooms year over year than we’ve begun to imagine,” Cole said. “It’s a much more competitive market for that kind of space. There is great economic opportunity to do that conversion.”
M.J. “Jay” Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., said Monday the conversion of the Tremont hotel rooms into apartments was a plus for the city.
“It’s a positive sign for downtown,” Brodie said.
Chatham said the new Tremont apartments would be equipped with luxury furniture and touches that include gourmet kitchens. Renters wishing an unfurnished apartment would also be accommodated, she said.
Pricing of the new rental units was not complete, Chatham said.