Huge shopping center planned for Hagerstown

April 18, 1998


Staff Writer

Construction of a $40 million shopping complex west of Hagerstown is expected to begin in September so the first phase of stores can open in late summer 1999, according to its developer.

The Centre at Hagerstown would create 1,500 full- and part-time jobs with an expected annual payroll of $20 million to $23 million, Phillip L. Ross, director of the McLean, Va.-based development firm Petrie Dierman Kughn, said Friday.

The center could have at least 11 anchor stores, which range in size from 25,000 square feet to more than 130,000 square feet, Ross said. They could include stores that sell clothing and furniture, and a 20-screen movie theater complex, he said.


There also would be parcels nearby for restaurants, banks and auto service shops, Ross said.

The entire complex would eventually be about 800,000 square feet, with projected annual sales of $200 million, Ross said. Most of the stores would be open by 2000.

Hagerstown City Council members are expected to approve annexing 400 acres northwest of the Interstate 81 and U.S. 40 interchange, including roughly 79 acres for the center, officials said. The shopping complex would be catercorner to First Data Merchant Services.

Petri has an option to buy the 79 acres from the Groh family trust that owns the 400 acres. Ross said the firm would exercise that option before construction begins.

After almost a year of negotiations for the annexation, the council will vote Tuesday on several matters related to it, said Deborah Everhart, the city's economic development coordinator.

They include an agreement that would allow Petrie to recover about $3 million in city real estate taxes during a 21-year period starting when at least 350,000 square feet of the center are ready for use, Everhart said.

The $2.952 million, plus interest up to 9.5 percent, would be reimbursed to Petrie to help fund the cost of building roads, water and sewer lines, Everhart said.

A public hearing on the annexation will be held June 9 at City Hall before the council votes on final approval, Everhart said.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the shopping complex, as well as the other 380 acres, would improve the community's economic health.

As the project is developed, the city would reap various revenues, helping the city during what are expected to be tight budget years in the near future, Zimmerman said.

The center would generate about $1 million a year in real estate taxes for Hagerstown and Washington County once the center is fully built and the 21-year period is over, officials said.

From $400,000 to $450,000 of the real estate taxes would go to the city, with the remaining $550,000 to $600,000 to the county, Ross said. The city wouldn't receive any real estate tax revenue from the project without the annexation.

Even with the real estate tax reimbursement, the complex would be one of the city's top 10 real estate taxpayers, said Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

The complex and annexation also could enhance the county's nearby business parks, he said.

The city could receive personal property and admission and amusement tax revenue from the project, depending on what businesses locate there, planning officials said.

Councilman William M. Breichner said the center will provide jobs and a needed major shopping complex for Hagerstown's West End and the western part of Washington County.

Ross said the center expects to draw shoppers from Halfway to Frederick, Chambersburg, Pa., and Martinsburg, W.Va.

The center, Outlet Village of Hagerstown, which is under construction near the Interstate 70-Sharpsburg Pike interchange, and the Valley Mall will complement each other, he said.

Ross said he doesn't expect the center to draw busloads of shoppers from a far distance, as an outlet center would, because it will feature several stores already available in Frederick and Washington, D.C. Those stores are not available in the Hagerstown area now, he said.

The project will require access roads as well as widening U.S. 40 for lanes leading in and out of the shopping complex, officials said.

The complex is expected to be served by city sewer, Everhart said. It could be served by the county's underused Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant if city and county officials negotiate a deal that wouldn't raise costs for the developers and city, she said.

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