Loan guaranteed for W.Va. center

September 04, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Developer Ken Lowe can envision where a curved glass wall will be overlooking a courtyard at the $19 million Eastern Management Development Center.

Now the facility consists of poured concrete, steel beams and brick walls. But with construction ahead of schedule, Lowe sees roses against a trellis overlooking a picturesque courtyard.

"I picture people getting married here. I picture people having receptions here," Lowe said.

Lowe and his two partners in the project, Bavarian Inn owner Erwin Asam and contractor Mike Callas, gave a tour of the facility Wednesday to U.S. Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., and Bobby Lewis, U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development state director.


Wise and Lewis announced a $10 million loan guarantee for the Eastern Management Development Center from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's program to help rural areas develop economically.

Lowe, president of the Federal Group, Inc., said the facility is a public-private partnership. It will be used as a training center for senior-level federal officials and policy makers who will come out to the site for conferences, training and decision-making, Lowe said. It will also be used as a motel and convention center for private citizens, he said.

The federal Office of Personnel Management has signed a 15-year lease to use the facility, with its first group scheduled for July 1998.

If the weather holds, work could be completed on the facility by May 1998, Lowe said.

The facility will have 168 rooms and suites plus a restaurant, conference meeting rooms, classrooms and a ballroom, Lowe said. It sits on about 35 tree-surrounded acres just outside of Shepherdstown, which eventually might include jogging paths and a botanical garden.

Already three different groups have contacted him about using the facility for statewide conventions, Lowe said.

A health spa complete with a sauna is being constructed at the back of the courtyard and the Eastern Management Development Center will be allowed to sell memberships to residents.

The facility will employ about 125 people, while the OPM will staff the site with about 25 workers, Lowe said.

Lowe and Wise said the facility's location in West Virginia will have spinoff benefits.

Lowe said he believes federal officials will spend free time walking through Shepherdstown, going to local shops and restaurants. A sidewalk will run from the facility to Shepherdstown, about a 10-block walk away, he said.

Wise said the policy makers will come to West Virginia and get a favorable impression about the state, which could lead to intangible benefits.

"They'll be talking about West Virginia," Wise said.

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