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Panel delays project demolition decision

October 26, 2000

Panel delays project demolition decision



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


A Hagerstown historic preservation panel Thursday held off making a decision whether to allow a developer to tear down three buildings in the city's historic district.

Marc Silverman of Rockville, Md., was seeking a certificate of hardship, approval for demolition plans that the Preservation Design District Commission turned down last month.

Silverman has proposed constructing a four-story office building on top of two underground parking levels in the first block of South Potomac Street.

His plan is to tear down three buildings at 32-36, 38-40 and 46-48 S. Potomac St., the site of his proposed office complex.

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His request was initially denied because the buildings are considered integral components of the historical character of downtown.

In order to receive the certificate of hardship, Silverman had to show that his project would be of greater public benefit than keeping the buildings, and that his project could not be done unless the buildings were torn down.

Members of the commission said they could not make a decision without additional information from Silverman about the cultural and financial impact the project would have on the community.

The results of an environmental study being conducted were also needed.

Silverman said he should be granted the certificate because no other site in the city would be feasible for the type of building plans he has in mind.

"It's evident that it is a prime location in the city so naturally that is where I would like to be," he said.

Silverman told the commission that if he's denied the demolition certificate he will abandon the project.

He said the building project would bring people downtown.

His plans would "encourage others to invest in the city," he said.

Commission members asked repeatedly for Silverman to provide projected leasing rates but he declined.

Silverman was also asked about his tenants.

The developer that said at this point in the project he didn't know but he has been approached by three businesses, including two law firms.

He said once construction begins he would start a heavy marketing plan to attract tenants.

Silverman assured the commission that he will not demolish the buildings unless he has secured the necessary studies, financing and leases to make the project work.

"Unless all the components to complete the building are there I won't take down the first brick," said Silverman.

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