Spencer Zahn has had a knack for being in the right place at the right time throughout his career. He has helped boost the careers and fortunes of many notable musicians, artists and other creative types while himself remaining in the background.
And that’s still how he prefers it. But he is stepping out of the shadows for just a little bit to promote the space he has worked from for many years now.
That space is itself storied, at least to those who remember the Philly of the 1970s. It’s on the first floor of a former firehouse on the 2000 block of Sansom Street, long a stretch known for an eclectic mix of shops, clubs, music venues, theaters and eateries.
It’s fronted by an innocuous blue door now, but back in the day, what was on the other side was Artemis, the hottest disco in town. Artemis was the second and best-known of a string of legendary clubs run by local impresario David Carroll, and Zahn described it as the place where everybody went. “It was Studio 54 before there was a Studio 54,” he said. “Teddy Prendergrass, Darryl Hall, John Oates, they all came here,” along with other notable musicians; Zahn wouldn’t swear to this, but he thinks he may have bought a young Bruce Springsteen his first legal drink at the club.
Carroll would go on to open two more venues with a more punk-ish vibe, the Hot Club on South Street and Bar Noir off Rittenhouse Square. Meanwhile, Artemis’ space went into a graceful, quiet retirement as home to Zahn’s management company.
Zahn is now ready to give up that space to the right tenant.
“The space is too great for someone else not to enjoy it,” Zahn said.
That space, he said, need not remain office space; it could be used for other commercial purposes, most notably retail. But, he said, the tenant should be someone who “understands what it is and understands what the city is.
“David Carroll saw things correctly,” he said.
The city isn’t the same city Carroll opened his club in, as Liz Spikol, who remembers Artemis, recalled in her essay on coming of age in 1970s Philly last summer. It’s a lot less gritty and a little more glamorous now. But even though its tenant mix has changed too, the 2000 block of Sansom retains much of the funky, quirky charm it had when Carroll ruled the roost. Zahn is looking to share the building he owns with someone who gets that spirit. Are you that person? His “bouncer,” Jackie Balin of CBRE Fameco, can help you answer that question.