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Real Estate - Commercial

City Club, Event Center On The Market For $7.5 Million

By Emma Dill, posted Apr 16, 2024
The City Club of Wilmington and the adjacent St. Thomas Preservation Hall is on the market for $7.5 million. (Photo courtesy of MoMentum Companies)
The City Club of Wilmington, a private dining and social club, and its adjacent event venue St. Thomas Preservation Hall are on the market for $7.5 million.

The real estate listing, which became public at the beginning of April, includes the two historic buildings and their existing businesses along with another small building currently leased by coffee shop Hidden Grounds. 

The property’s listing contact Terry Espy, president of MoMentum Companies, said current owners Jonathan Weiss and David Topping are looking for a new owner who can continue taking the property to the “next level.”

Weiss and Topping purchased City Club at 23 S. Second St. and 21 S. Second St. for just over $2.8 million in 2007 through their holding company Topweiss LLC. In 2014, the two bought St. Thomas Preservation Hall, an event center at 208 Dock St. for $800,000, according to property records. 

“When Jonathan and David bought City Club, their goal was to lift it kind of to the next level,” Espy said on Tuesday, “you know, get it up to a certain membership level and make sure the building was preserved and maintained.”

The listing is well-timed for the Wilmington market, Espy added.

“Business sales with the real estate in Wilmington have never been in a better position,” she said. “They’re going out on a high.”

Before the public listing went live on April 1, the downtown buildings were kept private as a “pocket listing” while Espy and her clients tested the waters, she said. The listing has seen interest from several parties outside of the Cape Fear region, Espy said, adding that she’s reached out to around 20 “James Beard-level” chefs about the property.

“From my standpoint, I'd love to see somebody like a Paula Dean in there, a celebrity-type chef,” she said.

However, Espy said it will be important to vet any future restaurant or owner interested in the property to ensure they’re the right fit and will succeed in the long term.

“We want to make sure anybody going into any of the projects we work on is prepared because it's not my job to enable people to fail just to get a paycheck,” she said. “We've been really focused, and the ones that are raising their hand, we're making sure not only do they have the capital, they have the experience and they’ve got to understand and love Wilmington.”

Also known as the deRosset House, the three-story City Club building was built in 1844 by Armand John deRosset III, a physician, merchant and entrepreneur, according to the property listing. It features multiple dining rooms, two bars, six guest suites, lounges, meeting rooms and gardens. The building was renovated in 1998 and again in 2007.

Across Dock Street from City Club, St. Thomas Preservation Hall was built in 1846 by Robert Wood and “served a small but growing parish of Catholics in New Hanover County,” the property listing states. Since closing as a church, the venue has hosted weddings and other events and can accommodate up to 200 guests.

All properties will be conveyed in the sale. The listing notes that property income is generated by City Club membership and dining revenues and through events hosted at St. Thomas Preservation Hall. Other revenue is generated through the lease of 21 S. Second St. – the building occupied by Hidden Grounds – and on-site guest suites.

Espy said she plans to continue marketing the property and tapping real estate relationships she’s built to find the right buyer for the historic buildings.

“Our focus is to find the right group that will honor what's gone on before,” she said, “and really be an integral part of downtown.”

Correction: This version of the story has been updated to correct the purchase price of 23 S. Second St. and 21 S. Second St. It was purchased in 2007 for just over $2.8 million, according to Jonathan Weiss.
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