Developer buys Grand Piano building

September 25, 1997


Staff Writer

A Washington County developer who bought the former Grand Piano & Furniture Co. building in Hagerstown hopes the move will contribute to a turnaround downtown.

Richard E. McCleary said Wednesday he plans to invest about $1.5 million to buy and remodel the 52 W. Washington St. building. A contract was signed in August and he expects the matter with Grand Piano to be settled in October, he said.

"We would like to attract some retail on the first floor, if not then the whole building could be office space," said McCleary, of Williamsport.


A restaurant also is a possibility for the first floor, he said.

McCleary said he plans to renovate the lobby by the end of the year to make the building more attractive to potential tenants.

He said he envisions a foyer of brass, wood and glass with a marble floor. An additional elevator would be installed in the front of the building.

McCleary is a partner in the general contracting firm McCleary & Earley Inc. and with the development group MKS. McCleary's development projects include Hagerstown Commons and a small strip shopping center on Eastern Boulevard.

"I keep thinking that the downtown area has to be ready for an upturn and hopefully this can be a big part of it," McCleary said.

"There's positive things happening downtown," said McCleary, citing the Public Square renovation and the renovated Magnolia Square shopping center at 301 W. Franklin St., which used to be Eddie's Tire.

Michael Hill, McCleary's Long & Foster Realtor, said McCleary's purchase of the downtown building might spark others to invest in downtown property.

The Grand Piano building renovation could include a pedestrian walkway from the six-story building to the city's nearby North Potomac Street parking garage, McCleary said.

City Council members would have to approve a walkway, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

There's a possibility a walkway could be extended not only to the Grand Piano building, but also to the neighboring Baldwin House, he said. A previous plan to renovate the Baldwin House into luxury apartments and upscale retail space included plans for such a walkway.

City officials said they have received no offers for the purchase of the city-owned Baldwin House, Zimmerman said.

Grand Piano closed its downtown store at the end of May after 21 years, replacing it in July with a larger store in Winchester, Va.

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