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Roundhouse business plan adopted

February 07, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority on Monday accepted a comprehensive business plan for renovating the historic B&O Roundhouse in Martinsburg.

The authority made minor changes to the plan, which was developed by a committee of the organization. It will now be sent to a consultant who will produce a final plan by the end of March.

Once finished, the authority will be able to begin an all-out fund-raising effort to transform the 1860s roundhouse complex into a profitable multi-use facility by 2004.

"This is a big step forward for us," said Clarence E. "CEM" Martin III, the Roundhouse Authority's chairman. "This is a very, very important piece of what we need to do."

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The business plan, which contains specific proposals and cost projections, expands upon the general themes that authority members laid out months ago.

The plan envisions multiple uses for five buildings in the historic complex:

* Concerts, lectures, theatrical productions, convocations and spectator sports in the roundhouse itself. It would also house a railroad museum.

* Conventions, trade shows, banquets, indoor sports, large meetings and other events in the frog and switch building.

* Long-term rented space in the machine shop. This would include space for arts and crafts sales, meeting and classroom space, a restaurant, an indoor farmers market and a military museum.

* An open-air farmers market, flea markets, a circus, historical re-enactments and other entertainment in the roundhouse shell.

* A museum, restaurant and additional exhibit space in the car wash building.

The plan projects more than 20,000 people will attend trade shows and other events in 2004, and more than 66,000 by 2006.

The plan also anticipates turning a $142,040 profit in the first full year of operation in 2004.

The projections, based largely on a formula used by the International Association of Assembly Managers, rest on six assumptions, including increased financial support from county, state and federal governments and sufficient funds to redevelop the roundhouse buildings.

"These assumptions are very, very important," said Martinsburg businesswoman La Rue Frye, who chaired the committee that wrote the plan.

"There's a lot of interest in this project all around the country. We're confident," Martin added.

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