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HCC center extends lease at Valley Mall

April 29, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Hagerstown Community College has made a deal to keep a college center in the Valley Mall for 10 more years, HCC President Norman Shea said Thursday.

The new lease agreement follows six months of hard negotiations that almost resulted in the college's departure, according to Phil Snodderly, HCC's director of facilities management and planning.

"The college almost wasn't successful in being able to stay," he said. "We were preparing to bring it all back to campus."

Snodderly would not discuss details of the lease, which had not been finalized by Thursday.

The college will move its satellite to the mall's new wing. Construction of the smaller center is expected to begin this summer but classes will continue without disruption at the existing location.

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HCC opened its satellite at the mall in the fall of 1995, according to Anne Myers, a program coordinator who oversees the center's operations.

When Crown American bought the mall in November 1997, the college had to renegotiate its lease agreement, she said.

"We have always enjoyed our presence at the Valley Mall," Myers said. "It's a really exciting place to offer an education."

In the last two years, 50,000 people have used the center, which offers credit and noncredit courses, according to Myers. It has two computer labs and five classrooms.

The existing location has 6,500 square feet and the new location will have approximately 4,200 square feet, according to Snodderly.

Myers said the new location will have the same amount of classroom space and less storage area.

The new space is toward the rear of the building, across from the mall's offices. It will be beside the entrance of a new wing that will include a one-story Hecht's store and increase the mall's size by about one-third.

The center will have the same amount of classrooms, which will be sound-proof, Myers said. It will have good parking and lighting, she said.

Since it opened 23 years ago, Valley Mall has had several different owners.

Crown American, a Johnstown, Pa., company, owns other malls, including one in Chambersburg, Pa., where Penn State University's Mont Alto campus has a similar satellite, according to Crown American spokeswoman Christine A. Menna in Johnstown.

She said educational facilities are assets to malls as they become more than just shopping places. "We feel there is a good synergy between the mall and education," she said.

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