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Outlet mall annexation plan to be discussed

August 25, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

and STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writers

Hagerstown's mayor and City Council will meet behind closed doors today to discuss whether they want to pursue annexation of the planned $40 million Prime Retail outlet mall.

"The benefit to the city if it's annexed is the property tax," said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman. He said he did not know how much the city would receive in property tax revenue if the land is annexed.

City officials began discussing the possibility of annexing the land at Sharpsburg Pike and Interstate 70 earlier this month, but have not made any proposals to Prime Retail officials yet, Zimmerman said.

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Annexation usually takes four to six months. Under the process, the property owner usually petitions the city for annexation in the expectation that it will get back some of the money it pays in increased taxes for roads, utilities, permits and zoning.

Prime Retail has not yet petitioned the city.

City officials also are considering annexing a planned $40 million shopping center at the intersection of Interstate 81 and U.S. 40.

City officials are looking at options to help finance public improvements for the Centre at Hagerstown, Zimmerman said.

Meanwhile, Prime Retail has asked the county to establish a special taxing district on its planned mall as a means of financing bonds for roads and other improvements, said County Planning Director Robert Arch.

Prime Retail will float bonds to pay for the improvements. The income from the special taxing district, which would be paid through higher property taxes, will be used to pay back the bond holders, Arch said.

The taxing district is on the County Commissioners agenda for approval tonight.

William H. Carpenter Jr., president and chief operating officer of Prime Retail, said he was not familiar with either issue, and referred questions to the company's lawyers, who did not return phone calls Monday afternoon.

Prime Retail, which owns outlet malls nationwide, plans to begin construction of the $40 million, 100-store Hagerstown Factory Shops on 60 acres south of Hagerstown this fall with completion by mid-1998.

The first phase of the shopping center would include 60 shops and about 240,000 square feet, before growing to a total of 440,000 square feet.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission has projected the Prime Retail mall will employ about 1,000 people and pay wages in excess of $13.4 million a year.

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