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Possible facelift for city mulled

September 28, 2000

Possible facelift for city mulled



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The Hagerstown Planning Commission got a look at the potential future of downtown Wednesday night as city planning staff reviewed more than $70 million in potential projects for the area.

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The list of proposals reviewed included a $46.5 million Civil War museum, a $12 million office building, a $10.4 million Performing and Visual Arts Center and $4.4 million to create additional parking and park space around a planned state university center site.

Wednesday was the first public presentation of the $4.4 million parking and park space plan, which is being proposed by a task force of the Greater Hagerstown Committee. The plan was discussed behind closed doors with city and Washington County elected officials and members of the local delegation to the General Assembly during meetings over the summer.

Although Wednesday was the first public presentation of the proposal, the details of the plan had already been leaked to the media and reported previously.

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Wednesday's presentation confirmed reports that the $4.4 million proposal calls for demolishing six downtown buildings to make room for a 153-space parking lot, wider alleys and a park.

All the proposed improvements would be done on the land around the city-owned Baldwin House complex, between the first blocks of West Franklin and West Washington streets.

The Baldwin House complex is the site of the planned $12.5 million University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

Kathy Maher, Hagerstown senior planner, said city representatives will meet with the governor Oct. 25 to ask for state funding for the $4.4 million proposal.

Maher said work is continuing on efforts to open a $46.5 million Civil War Museum on the corner of South Potomac and West Antietam streets. The project has been proposed by the nonprofit Antietam Creek Coalition.

A proposed $12 million office building for the first block of South Potomac Street goes before the city Historical Preservation Commission today.

A subcommittee is being formed to explore the operation of and funding sources for the proposed $10.4 million Performing and Visual Arts Center. The center, which is a proposal from a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce committee, calls for an expanded Maryland Theatre lobby and extensive renovations to two buildings next to the theater.

This latest estimate is $200,000 higher than the most recent previous estimate because the cost of purchasing the McBare's Pub building was not factored into the previous estimate, Maher said. Under the proposal, that building would be demolished to make room for an expanded theater lobby.

Maher said the list of potential projects is another reason to give renewed consideration to construction of a parking deck on top of a Hagerstown Trust parking lot on the first block of West Antietam Street.

A new parking deck could cost about $6 million and is in the city's long-range construction plans.

"It would be a decision for another City Council," Maher said.

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